The 2022 season for the Green Bay Packers has been one to forget. The season started off decently well, with the Packers owning a 3-1 record through the first four weeks. Since then, Matt LaFleur’s squad is 2-7, highlighted by a five-game losing streak from Week 5 until 9, and sits in third place behind the Vikings and the Lions. There is a tiny glimmer of hope, though, as Austin Mock of The Athletic projected that the Packers have an 11.5% chance of making the playoffs, up from 6% after the team’s victory against the Bears on Sunday. I could devote the entire article about how the Packers aren’t dead yet and run through the simulations that result in the Packers making the playoffs for the fourth time in as many years under LaFleur, but I will simply direct you to the ESPN Playoff Machine instead so I don’t seem like a complete green and gold homer. Anyway, since it is the bye week, let’s take a walk down memory lane. December 3, 2015, to be exact.
The Packers were coming off a disappointing loss, their second straight home loss, in Week 12 at the hands of the Bears on Thursday Night Football, a game in which the franchise honored Brett Favre by retiring his No. 4 jersey on the north facade. Green Bay looked to avenge its ugly Week 10 home loss to the Lions, while the Lions aimed to sweep the season series for the first time since 1991. The visitors got off to a putrid start and trailed 17-0 at halftime. The Lions added on a field goal to extend their lead to 20 in the third quarter, but the Packers answered with a touchdown with 5:44 remaining when Randall Cobb recovered an errant James Starks’ fumble in the end zone that bounced forward from around the 5-yard line. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Julius Peppers, Mr. Ole Reliable, came around the edge and hit Matt Stafford’s throwing hand to force a fumble, which was recovered by linebacker Jake Ryan. Aaron Rodgers then connected with Davante Adams three plays later, Adams’ first receiving touchdown of the season, to get the Packers within six.
(At one point early on in the fourth quarter, Jim Nantz said, “And there’s another Adams’ drop.” Oh, how the tide has since turned for No. 17.) The Lions, after a 13-play drive that lasted almost 6:30 of game time, scored on a 42-yard field goal by Matt Prater to extend their lead, 23-14, with roughly seven minutes remaining in the game. The Packers were faced with a fourth and one from their own 25 on the next drive and were able to convert on a pass to Cobb in the flat. Seven plays later, on third and 10 from the Detroit 17-yard line, Rodgers was pushed outside of the pocket to his left, pointed to a would-be wide receiver, and scampered into the end zone untouched to make it a two-point game.
The Lions converted on a third-and-12 on the next possession via a dart by Matt Stafford to TJ Jones, which was only Jones’ third catch of the year. With no timeouts remaining, the outlook was especially bleak for Mike McCarthy’s squad. The Packers’ defense got off the field after a third down stop, but the offense got the ball back with only 23 seconds remaining.
First down. Incomplete pass intended for Randall Cobb. 16 seconds left.
Second down. Another incomplete pass, and the Lions definitely got away with defensive pass interference on Jared Abbrederis that would have put the Packers in field goal range. 6 seconds left.
Third down. Pass complete to James Jones, who pitched it to Richard Rodgers at the Packers’ 42-yard line who threw it all the way back to QB1 at the 29-yard line. Then, the football gods stepped in as defensive end Devin Taylor was flagged for a facemask on A. Rodgers. Literally all that man had to do was push A. Rodgers down and the Lions would have completed the season sweep. Personally, if I was GM of the Lions at the time, I would have swiftly sent Taylor to the unemployment line after the game, but I was not the GM of the Lions at the time so it is a moot point. (Taylor was on the Lions for the remainder of the season and the following season and then played two games for the Giants in 2017. That was the last year he played in the NFL.)
First down, with zero seconds left on the clock from Green Bay’s 39-yard line. I’ll stop with my rambling and let you watch the game-winning pass in all its glory.
The looks on Detroit Don’s and Big Cat’s faces and their overall body language is what nightmares are made of. Some reports estimated that the ball traveled between 66 and 68 yards in the air, and nearly hit the rafters at Ford Field, before Richard Rodgers came down with the best catch of his life. Plus, the 20-point comeback was the fourth largest in franchise history. Banana land all around.
“It’s the greatest feeling,” QB1 said after the game. “We’re blessed to be able to play this game, and it reminds you at times how special this game is. You live for days like this, to be able to have something miraculous happen.”
Maybe, just maybe, something miraculous can happen again this season.
What is one of your favorite Packer memories from the past 10 years? Let me know in the comments!