The Detroit Lions were looking for the first season sweep of the Green Bay Packers since 1991, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers would not allow that as he completed a Hail Mary touchdown to Richard Rodgers with no time left on the clock to give Green Bay a 27-23 victory at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
"I knew I was going to have to buy some time to allow them to get into the end zone," Rodgers said. "I knew once I got outside the right that I was going to be able to set up and throw."
The Lions (4-8) first drive start just as they expected. Matthew Stafford marched down the field to help set up a 51-yard field goal opportunity. Matt Prater had no problem putting the ball down the middle to give Detroit a 3-0 lead over Green Bay.
On the next possession for Detroit, Ameer Abdullah got the team down the field with a huge 36-yard carry to the Green Bay 11-yard line. Stafford connected with Eric Ebron in the end zone for a three-yard score and a 10-0 lead with 1:53 to play in the first quarter.
Abdullah led the team with 13 carries for 67 yards. The rookie will look to finish out the shaky season on a strong note with the Lions.
Detroit got the ball right back as Glover Quin intercepted Rodgers, who was targeting James Jones. The Lions took over at the 17-yard line of the Packers and wasted no time.
Stafford dropped back and hooked up with Calvin Johnson, who held on with one hand, for a 17-yard touchdown with 1:02 left in the first quarter to give the Lions a 17-0 lead.
The 27-year-old quarterback went 23-for-35 through the ari with 220 yards passing and two touchdowns. Golden Tate caught eight passes for 63 yards in the loss.
With 12:19 to play in the first half, the Packers (8-4) had an opportunity to find the scoreboard. Mason Crosby's 41-yard try hit the left upright and was no good.
Randall Cobb was at the right place at the right time to recover a fumble by James Starks in the end zone. The unusual touchdown got the Packers on the board with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
On the first play of the next Detroit possession, Stafford was sacked by Julius Peppers, who forced a fumble. The ball came loose and was corralled in by Jake Ryan at the Lions 12-yard line.
With 4:06 left in the third, Rodgers found Devante Adams streaking in the end zone. The touchdown to pull the Packers within six points was the first score of the season for Adams after making 32 receptions without a catch in the end zone.
After the fumble in the end zone, which turned into a score for Green Bay, a fumble recovery for the defense and an offensive touchdown, the Packers completed two touchdowns in 98 seconds to turn the game in a different direction. The momentum pointed directly to the away team on Thursday night.
Ezekiel Ansah sacked Rodgers for a loss of nine yards to force Tim Masthay to punt the ball away to the Detroit offense in the fourth quarter. The defensive play marked 12.5 sacks on the season for Ansah, second to J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.
After a huge fourth-and-two conversion, the Lions extended their lead on a 42-yard field goal to give the Lions a 23-14 lead with 7:06 left in the game. The shot through the uprights gave Detroit a bit of breathing room with a two score lead.
The Packers completed a first down on fourth-and-one to keep the late fourth quarter drive alive. For his 21st career rushing touchdown, Rodgers scored from 17 yards out with 3:04 to play in the game. The quarterback keeper into the end zone cut the Lions lead to two, 23-21.
Wide open down the field was T.J. Jones and Stafford delivered on third-and-12 with 2:54 left in the game. The gain of 29 yards helped the Lions trim down the clock. Sam Martin was forced to punt the ball away with 29 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. He pinned the Packers at their own 21-yard line without a timeout.
On what looked like the final play of the game, Devin Taylor went for a tackle on Rodgers and tore him down by the facemask as time expired. The penalty gave the Packers one last play.
"Not an easy pill to swallow," Stafford said.
The 32-year-old quarterback rolled right out of the pocket and launched a Hail Mary down field, which fell into the hands of Richard Rodgers for a 61-yard touchdown in the end zone to give the Packers a 27-23 victory over the Lions.
"It's the greatest feeling," Aaron Rodgers said. "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."
Rodgers completed 24-of-36 passes for 273 yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception. The quarterback led the team with 27 rushing yards on four carries and a touchdown. Richard Rodgers, the receiver, caught eight passes for a team-high 146 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
"Tough one to lose," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "Those are the ones that eat at you. The guys are upset because they gave so much, but we needed one more play. It is never over in this league."
Green Bay overcame a 20-point deficit to mark the largest comeback in history against Detroit. The connection from Rodgers to Rodgers won the game and sent Detroit fans hanging their heads.
"There's going to be no masking this. We know that we struggled," Aaron Rodgers said. "We're inconsistent on offense. We can't be that type of football team if we want to finish the season where we want to finish the season. We're 8-4, there's four games left, and we know it's about giving yourself an opportunity, getting into the dance.
"It's a great game we play. This one obviously ranks up there as one of the greatest joys on the field that we've had, together as a team and personally."