Jeff Janis steps up in losing effort

Robert Zizzo
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Green Bay Packers receiver Jeff Janis (83) catches a Hail Mary against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) and Rashad Johnson (26) at the end of the fourth quarter during their NFC divisional playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

GLENDALE, Ariz. - It took injuries to two of Green Bay’s top wide receivers, but second-year player Jeff Janis finally had his coming out party Saturday night in the desert.

The extremely athletic and, at times, painfully raw Janis was forced into action at the start of the second quarter and responded with a performance that will rank among the best in Green Bay playoff history.

Janis finished with seven receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown gave Green Bay its first lead of the game and his second sent the game into overtime on a Hail Mary play.

His 145 receiving yards rank third in franchise playoff history, behind only Jermichael Finley’s 159 yards against Arizona in January 2010 and John Jefferson’s 148 against the St. Louis Cardinals in January 1983.

Another heartbreaking defeat for Packers

Janis joins eight other Packers with two touchdowns in one playoff game, second behind Sterling Sharpe’s three-touchdown performance against Detroit in January 1994.

Janis got his first snaps on offense only after Randall Cobb was forced to leave the game at the end of the first quarter with a chest injury sustained while making a falling, one-handed catch that was nullified by offsetting penalties.

With Davante Adams inactive because of a knee injury, Green Bay had only four receivers against Arizona.

Janis caught four of his seven passes in the second quarter alone, including a 6-yarder on a third-and-4 play.

Later, with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Aaron Rodgers was flushed out of the pocket on a third-and-goal play from the Arizona 8-yard line. Rodgers scrambled for 5.96 seconds, according to NBC, before finally finding Janis near the goal line for the touchdown to give Green Bay a 13-7 lead.

Then came the Packers’ final drive of the fourth quarter, one that will go down in franchise annals as one of the most unlikely. Trailing 20-13 with less than a minute to go, and facing fourth-and-20 and the end of their season from their own 4-yard line, Rodgers found Janis for a 61-yard pass to the Cardinals’ 36.

Two plays later, with 5 seconds to go, Rodgers launched a Hail Mary pass that Janis snatched in the end zone for 41 yards and the tie to force overtime as the clock expired.

"I saw Aaron throw it," Janis said. "I tried to guess on the trajectory of it. I saw it coming down and just tried to jump up and make a play."

The overtime ended quickly with Arizona winning 26-20, but Janis’ standout performance will give Green Bay fans hope going into next season that another deep receiving threat has been found.

"Jeff Janis, he's taken advantage of some opportunities," coach Mike McCarthy said, "and he's just a young man that needs to play.

"He's got a lot of raw ability and he made some huge, huge plays tonight."

Said Janis, "Yeah, everybody thinks that they can come in and play. Everybody wants to come in and show that they can play. Like I said, I just knew I had to step up and that's what I tried to do."

In-game injuries

The Packers lost starting receiver Cobb at the end of the first quarter and defensive back Micah Hyde with 9 minutes left in the first half.

Cobb injured his chest making a remarkable one-handed 51-yard catch that was nullified by offsetting penalties. He spent the night in the Phoenix area under observation, according to Packers spokesperson.

Hyde injured his hip making a tackle on receiver Michael Floyd. Hyde was replaced in the dime defense by rookie Quinten Rollins.

Lacy breaks loose

Running back Eddie Lacy‘s 61-yard run early in the third quarter was the second-longest run in franchise playoff history.

James Lofton holds the record with a 71-yard run 33 years ago to the day, in a Jan. 16, 1983 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Insider: Thumbs up to Rodgers, down to pass D or follow him on Twitter @RobertZizzo.

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