DETROIT – Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers now know what it’s like to be on the happy side of a Hail Mary pass, and it definitely reminded them of their controversial Hail Mary loss at Seattle in 2012.
“I will just say this,” McCarthy said after the Packers’ 27-23 win over Detroit on Thursday night, “at least our guy really caught the ball on this one. You can quote that.”
McCarthy was referring to Golden Tate’s disputed catch of a Hail Mary in Seattle three seasons ago in the last game officiated by replacement referees that season. Tate had his hand on the ball when Packers safety M.D. Jennings was trying to cradle the interception, and the refs eventually ruled that Tate and Jennings had dual possession when they were on the ground, which meant the offense got the touchdown and the Seahawks the win.
On the Packers’ Hail Mary win Thursday night over the Lions, quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw the ball about 70 yards in the air, and he got it high enough that it came down like a punt. Tight end Richard Rodgers went above a group of players and pulled down the ball for the catch and win on what officially was a 61-yard touchdown.
“When you throw it with that arch you have a chance, because it gives guys a chance to fight for position,” McCarthy said. “That’s the whole design of it, and there’s a design to where you try to get to and the triangle that you’re trying to form (with teammates) down there. Richard is the perfect guy for that type of situation, big body and his ability to go up – you see his old basketball skills – and high-point the football.
“But frankly, I love those. Aaron can get it into the end zone, but with that much height I was a little concerned. But what a great throw. How far was it? I’m sure you figured it out already. It had to be 70-plus (yards).”
The Packers practice throwing and defending the Hail Mary pass once every practice the day before the game. Aaron Rodgers’ scramble to the right against the Lions’ three-man rush gave his five receivers a chance to get in the end zone when he threw the ball.
“I felt good about the throw getting to the end zone,” Aaron Rodgers said, “and I knew by the height I put on it that we were going to have a chance to have some guys around it. I was looking at Davante (Adams) after I threw it, and I was pretty excited to see Richard jump in there and catch it.”
Said Richard Rodgers: “We practice it a little bit in pregame. Aaron was throwing up really high balls, and I was catching them, and I kind of saw the same thing. I ran down there, saw the ball, made sure I was in the end zone and went up and caught it.”