Why they won: Green Bay Packers’ Miracle In Motown

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Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) draws a facemask penalty during the fourth quarter with no time remaining against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Packers win 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The “Facemask”

The Packers had officially run out of time.

After scoring a touchdown with 3:04 left to narrow the deficit to 23-21, Green Bay decided to kick the ball off to Detroit. The Lions managed to run the clock down to 0:29 by the time the Packers got the ball back at their own 21.

After failing to complete two deep attempts, the Packers were left with 0:06 — just enough time for one play.

That play ended up being a lateral attempt that was doomed from the start. It went basically nowhere, with Detroit all over it. Eventually, the ball was thrown back to Aaron Rodgers, who was pretty immediately taken down. Game over, Lions win.

But then, a flag.

Facemask. On the defense.

The penalty was 15 yards, which was usually bad enough on its own, but in the case of a penalty on the defense with no time left, the rules provide the offense with an untimed down.

To make things worse for the Lions, the replay showed that in fact there wasn’t even much of a facemask. But in the moment the refs HAD to call it — at full speed there is no way that does not get called, period.

Either way, the result of this call is what set up the finale…

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