There's no such thing as an easy Hail Mary.
This one just felt a little less fluky.
Aaron Rodgers threw the ball about 70 yards to the end zone, and Richard Rodgers made an impressive catch with a bunch of players right behind him — but the Detroit Lions can look back at any number of things they could have done differently to prevent the touchdown with no time remaining that gave Green Bay a 27-23 victory Thursday night.
"What you try to do is not let them catch it, plain and simple," Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said.
What has to be galling for Lions fans is that this wasn't like so many other Hail Marys. There was no crazy bounce, no pile of players fighting over the ball while falling to the ground. One Rodgers made the throw, another Rodgers made the catch and the Green Bay players spilled off the sideline right away, realizing they'd won.
Needless to say, a lot went wrong for the Lions.
With the ball at the Green Bay 39, Detroit rushed only three players, leaving the other eight to cover the expansive territory between the line of scrimmage and the end zone. This strategy isn't all that unusual, but on such a long Hail Mary, Aaron Rodgers needed to buy a little extra time so his receivers could get to the end zone. The limited pass rush allowed that.
Perhaps most crucially, the Lions were concerned that Green Bay might not throw a Hail Mary at all. On the previous play, the Packers had tried a short pass followed by laterals. So Detroit didn't bother putting Calvin Johnson in to defend a heave to the end zone. The Lions were concerned instead about the possibility of needing an open-field tackle.
There were still six Detroit players left to defend five eligible receivers. "We had plenty of guys back there," Caldwell said. "We just didn't make the play. They did."
Now Detroit's three-game winning streak is over, and the best the Lions (4-8) can hope for is a .500 record.
"It's tough to swallow," Detroit receiver Golden Tate said. "We played a good game — just one play."
Eden Prairie combine
The Vikings training facility at Winter Park will be one of five sites where the NFL will hold regional combines for draft-eligible players starting in February.
The Eden Prairie combine will be on March 5. The other dates and sites are: Feb. 13 in Houston at the Texans Methodist Training Center; Feb. 20 at the Cardinals training facility in Tempe, Arizona; Feb. 27 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Baltimore; and March 12 at the Saints training complex in Metairie, La.
• New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will not play against the Giants on Sunday because of a concussion. Coach Todd Bowles said that Revis is officially listed as out for the game, the second straight he will miss.
• The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without receiver Allen Hurns at Tennessee on Sunday, also because of a concussion. It will be the first game Hurns has missed in his two seasons.