You remember the play because you can’t forget it.
Down by two points last December and with zeros on the clock – Green Bay had received an extra, untimed down because of a Detroit penalty – the Packers had the ball on their own 39-yard line, with one more chance, a long-shot, no-way-in-hell, never-going-to-happen chance to go for it all and win the game.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers took the shotgun snap, rolled a bit to his left, made a defender miss, ran all the way back across the field to the right, took a few steps up to gather some momentum and then unleashed a towering, majestic missile into the end zone. Tight end Richard Rodgers jumped up with everyone else and, somehow, was the one who miraculously came down with it for the 61-yard, game-winning touchdown. And then everyone just went crazy.
You remember. And sports fans and media voters didn’t forget about it, either, honoring it with the 2016 ESPY Award for Best Play during Wednesday night’s ceremony.
Lions tight end Eric Ebron remembers the play because he can’t stop seeing it and, surely, it haunts his dreams.
Even though it was one of the defining moments of the NFL (and especially the Packers’) season, not everyone was thrilled with the choice. Rodgers’ Hail Mary – his first; he threw another one in the NFC Divisional Round playoff game against Arizona – beat out a few other plays from games with much higher stakes than a regular-season Packers game against the Lions. The other finalists were LeBron James’ block late in the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers’ Game 7 win over the Warriors that helped Cleveland win its first NBA championship, and Michigan State’s recovery of a fumbled Michigan punt attempt that was returned for a game-winning touchdown on the last play.
Villanova’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to upset North Carolina and win the NCAA Tournament probably would have been a fine choice, too.
Well, at least now Aaron Rodgers has a trophy to put on his mantle. But what do you think? Was the Packers’ Hail Mary against the Lions really the best play of the year?