Aaron Rodgers' long pass vs. Bears adds to list of late-game heroics

ByRob Demovsky via ESPN logo
Monday, December 19, 2016

CHICAGO -- Nothing about the first two plays of the drive offered any indication thatAaron Rodgers was about to do something special. Then again, the Green Bay Packers have seen this before without warning from their MVP quarterback.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy decided not to settle for overtime, despite facing third-and-11 from their own 26-yard line in a tie gamewith under a minute remaining. That was when Rodgers hoisted a 60-yard rainbow pass to receiverJordy Nelson, setting up Mason Crosby's 32-yardfield goal as time expired to give the Packers a30-27 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

"We kind of fiddled around the first couple downs and made it a little more dramatic," Rodgers said. "And then Jordy obviously with the great play, and Mason, the best kicker in the league, with the clutch [kick]. ... It was ... great."

Rodgers even had the presence of mind to let as much time as possible tick off the clock before that throw so he wouldn't leave the Bears with much time if the deep shot play didn't work and the Packers were forced to punt.

The Bears have seen this act before, too. Rodgers beat them with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute of the 2013 regular-season finale. Rodgers connected on remarkable Hail Mary passes last season, too -- a 61-yard touchdown on an untimed down against the Detroit Lions and a bomb to Jeff Janisto force overtime in a playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

"I mean, it's Aaron Rodgers," Bears cornerback Tracy Porter said. "He makes that team go. He makes that team tick. He's earned the right at times to make that playcall. Maybe McCarthy called the play."

Either way, Porter knew it was coming.

"I kind of had a feeling that they didn't want to go to overtime," he said. "They were trying to win the game. So they were going to try to take a shot at some point. I kind of told the guys to keep their antennas up."

Even so, Nelson beat Bears rookie cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc and threw his hand up in the air to make sure Rodgers saw him.

"I saw Jordy put his hand out, figured that the safety on the back side hadn't rolled to the middle, so they were playing a quarters look," Rodgers said. "I tried to put enough air on it for him to run underneath it, and that's what he does. He makes those kinds of catches. I was teasing him earlier in the game -- we missed on a couple deep ones: one, it looked like he had his hands on it; one, I kind of underthrew him -- that we were going to have to hit one before the end of the game. Sure enough, we did."

In 2015 and 2016, Rodgers has completed four passes of 40-plus yards in the final two minutes of regulation, including playoffs. The rest of the NFL has two completed two, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"We talk all the time -- all we need is time and downs," Nelson said. "Obviously, Aaron showed it last year with the Hail Mary in Detroit. We don't even need time, we just need downs. It's one of those things -- as an offense, you just need another opportunity. If you can make a play like that and walk away with a win, that's all you need."

And Rodgers did it all on a bum right calf that prevented him from practicing much -- if at all -- last week. He said he came out "no worse for the wear, I don't think."

"It actually felt a little better as the game wore on and had some heat on it," said Rodgers, who did not throw a touchdown pass, snapping a streak of eight straight games with two or more, but completed 19-of-31 for 252 yards. "As the adrenaline got going, I felt like I was able to do a little more than I expected coming into the game, so I definitely didn't take any steps back."

Related Video