We head towards the end of Round 1 as special teams get their day in the sun and Aaron Rodgers’ run of Hail Marys continues.
Green Bay Packers football is finally back! The doldrums of the offseason are coming to a close. With a renewed sense of hope for most of the league and especially the folks at 1265 Lombardi, there is no better time to look back at the best plays in Packers history.
The first two days of our bracket are available here and here and polls will close tomorrow, so be sure to go vote now. Today we finish the first round of voting as we find out who will move on to face the top three seeds in the second round. We’ll be examining each matchup in the bracket below so we can all raise our hype levels for what will surely be a season filled with more all-time plays. Let’s get to it!
Our first matchup of Day 3 is Brett Favre’s first-ever game-winning TD pass to Kitrick Taylor vs. Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary TD to Richard Rodgers, dubbed “The Miracle in Motown.”
Legendary Quarterbacks carry with them a long list of forgotten companions on their way to greatness. Linemen, journeymen receivers, one game wonder running backs. They are all pages in a great QB’s story. Kitrick Taylor is one such player for Brett Favre. On September 20, 1992, Favre replaced the injured Don Majkowski with less than a minute left against the Bengals. Taylor had subbed in for the injured Sterling Sharpe. Trailing 23-17 and about 35 yards from scoring, Favre told each receiver to run straight down the field and get open, an “all verticals” call. Taylor got open, Favre closed his eyes and chucked it, and the Packers won the game. Favre’s first-ever game-winning throw and Taylor’s only touchdown reception of his career.
#22: Miracle in Motown
The Miracle in Motown continued Rodgers’ flair for the dramatic, as the team completed their 4th largest comeback ever. Trailing 20-0 at one point, the Packers came roaring back to get it within 3. Deep in their own territory, the Packers had one play left with 6 seconds left. It was a disaster. After a backward pass and a lateral, Rodgers was tackled at the 24-yard line as the clock read triple zeroes. However, the Lions’ Devin Taylor was called for a facemask on the play, setting up one last attempt from the Packers’ 39-yard line. Rodgers rolled right to buy time and launched a moon shot that nearly hit the Ford Field rafters. 70 yards in the air. Jim Nantz asked before the play if Aaron Rodgers “had a vintage moment in him,” and proving that slow and steady wins the race, Richard Rodgers was there in the end zone to secure the pass and bring home the victory. Of course, this was not the Rodgers’ family’s first experience with wild finishes, and Richard Rodgers Sr. was a part of “The Play” between Stanford and Cal, in which the Stanford band came onto the field midway through a kickoff return at the end of the game.
Admit it. When you first watched this miraculous play, you could hear Chris Berman screaming in your ear. 13 “WHOOP” exclamations later, Driver found himself in the end zone. The 35-year-old Driver rumbled 61 yards for the score as if to let everyone know the old man still had it. After the reception put the Packers up 21-13, they would go on to win 34-16 in a blowout.
At 6’2” 340 lbs, Raji isn’t exactly what you think of when you think of the “spy” role on defense. But against Caleb Hanie and the Bears in the NFC Championship, Raji played his part to perfection. The big man dropped back into coverage, picked off Hanie’s pass, and rumbled his way to the end zone to give the Pack a commanding 21-7 lead and secure their spot in Super Bowl 45. And who could forget Raji’s iconic dance in the end zone? The perfect end cap to a play that couldn’t have been written better by Hollywood execs themselves.
Our third matchup of the day is between Aaron Rodgers’ clutch throw to Greg Jennings on 3rd and 10 in Super Bowl XLV and Ahman Green’s record-setting 98 yard TD run in 2003.
Up 28-25 late in the 4th quarter with the Steelers breathing down their necks, Rodgers and Jennings connected on a crucial 3rd and 10 to set up a Mason Crosby field goal and give the Packers the victory. Ike Taylor was nearly blanketing Jennings but like Rodgers has done so many times before, he fit the ball into the tiniest possible window for the 31-yard dime. An unbelievably clutch throw in a game filled with them.
Ah, blowing out the Cowboys at Lambeau. Few things are sweeter in life. With the game already well in hand, Green dug the knife just a bit deeper with a 98 yard TD run to give the Packers a 41-13 lead. The run still stands as the Packers’ longest ever, a record that most likely won’t be broken anytime soon.
The penultimate matchup of Round 1 pits two fan-favorite receivers against each other. Randall Cobb’s kick return TD against the Saints in 2011 vs. Sterling Sharpe and Brett Favre’s game-winning TD against the Lions in the 1993 NFC Wild Card round.
Anticipation was at an all-time high for the Packers coming into the 2011 season. Fresh off a win in Super Bowl XLV, the Packers faced off against the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday night. At the time, Randall Cobb was an unproven 2nd round pick playing in his first game ever and he made sure to make his mark. After catching a 32 yard TD in the 2nd quarter, Cobb put the game out of reach with an electrifying 108 yard, record-tying kickoff return. Fielding a return 8 yards into your own end zone is a rookie move that doesn’t usually turn out well, but Cobb made it work as he so often did.
Another game-winner makes the list, and another incredible Brett Favre throw to go along with it. Hard to believe, but the Packers were playing their first playoff game since 1982. The Lions had the lead late into the 4th quarter and looked like they’d take home the W. After all, they beat the Packers just one week before off of four Favre interceptions. But in spite of the advice of everyone around him at the time, the gunslinger kept slingin. Down 24-21, Favre scrambled to his left and launched a missile across his body to a streaking Sterling Sharpe down the right sideline, who caught the TD with 55 seconds left on the clock.
Here it is, our final matchup of Round 1! We have Chester Marcol’s blocked field goal turned TD against the Bears vs. Brett Favre’s miraculous game against the Raiders after the death of his father, Irvin Favre.
This one has *everything.* Blocked field goal? Check. Kicker retrieves the ball for a TD? Check. AND it was against the Bears? That’s right! The “Polish Prince,” as Marcol was known, lined up for a 34-yard field goal to break a 6-6 tie and send the Bears home with an opening day loss. Of course, things didn’t go as planned. The Bears’ Alan Page blocked the kick and the ball ended up in Marcol’s hands as he sprinted for a touchdown. Marcol later admitted he was under the influence of cocaine during the game, a vice that would result in his release from the team later that year. Despite his struggles with sobriety, Marcol is a Packers Hall of Fame member who will forever be known for his late-game heroics.
While this one isn’t just one play, it is a must to include in any list regarding the history of the Packers. Fantastic statistical efforts and meaningful games were a regularity in Favre’s career. He threw for 4 TD’s over 20 times in his career, but none meant more than the effort against the Raiders in 2003 just one day after the death of his father, Irvin Favre. Believing that his father would have wanted him to play, Favre produced one of his greatest games ever. He threw for 399 yards and 4 TD’s, while only missing 8 throws the entire night. Even the famously hostile Raiders crowd couldn’t help but cheer for the miraculous effort. For a player who consistently dominated on the Monday Night stage, there was no more significant performance than this one.
And with that, we’re finished with Round 1! On Wednesday, we’ll begin round 2 as our top seeds clash with the underdogs to find out who will advance to the quarterfinals. Be sure to cast your votes here to see your favorite play move on in the bracket!