Packers QB Rodgers on Hail Mary success: 'It's fun'
1/9/2017 8:38:00 PM
Aaron Rodgers has the throw down pat, but practice doesn't necessarily make what the daring quarterback seemingly has perfected.
Rodgers' 42-yard touchdown heave to Randall Cobb in the back of the end zone to end the first half Sunday propelled the Green Bay Packers to a 38-13 comeback win over the New York Giants in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
"It's kind of crazy," Packers receiver Davante Adams said. "It's almost (like) people expect us to make those plays."
Rodgers has the competition blown away with three Hail Mary throws for touchdowns in the last 13 months. His first may be the most memorable, when Rodgers let loose with a 61-yard pass that leaping tight end Richard Rodgers snagged on an untimed down to lift the Packers to an improbable win on the road against the rival Detroit Lions in December 2015.
A little more than a month later, Aaron Rodgers struck again with a 41-yard touchdown to Jeff Janis on the final play of regulation in Green Bay's divisional-round playoff game at the Arizona Cardinals. That tied the score, but the Packers lost in overtime.
He may have topped those two with his flair for the dramatic in front of the home fans at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
"It's fun. Every single time, it's fun," Rodgers said after the game. "I think we're starting to believe any time that ball goes up there we've got a chance. I can throw it pretty good, but it's got to happen on the other end as well."
Adams said Rodgers' deep ball into a sea of bodies standing in the end zone isn't supposed to be caught on the back side. Incredibly, though, the ball descended untouched into the arms of an awaiting Cobb.
"You've got to put a body on a body," said Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter, describing what should have unfolded from a defensive back's perspective. "You want to box out on those types of plays. And, you see what happens when you don't."
Gunter was quick to credit the execution by Rodgers and Cobb on that play, however.
"That's just what (No.) 12 does, man," Gunter said. "He just makes crazy plays at any given time. That was great because we needed that momentum going into halftime, and that us up in a nice little lead."
The Packers went into the locker room ahead 14-6. They scored two late touchdowns in the first half after spotting the Giants a 6-0 lead.
Green Bay poured it on in the second half, tallying 24 unanswered points after New York pulled within 14-13 in the third quarter, to set up a road date with the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round Sunday.
Rodgers insisted that throwing Hail Mary passes hasn't been part of the practice routine for a few months.
"We're definitely more effective in the games," he said. "I haven't thrown a Hail Mary in practice probably since Week 4 or 5."
-- The Packers opted to not give troubled defensive tackle Mike Pennel a second chance.
They released Pennel on Monday after he had become eligible last week to be added back to the 53-man roster. He had just served a second four-game NFL suspension this season.
Pennel, a third-year pro, appeared in eight games during the regular season. He had eight tackles with one pass breakup.
He was suspended for the first four games of the season because of a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. Another policy offense resulted in the most recent suspension to end the regular season.
Pennel was moved to the exempt/commissioner permission list last week and resumed practicing with the team but wasn't added to the 53-man roster for the first playoff game.
He made five starts in his tenure with the Packers.