The Green Bay Packers lost 26-20 to the Arizona Cardinals in the Divisional Round of the 2015 Playoffs.
While that in itself is difficult to write and utter, what’s even more difficult to fathom is the fact that the Packers completed three plays of miracle status in that game which, while incredible in the moment, will be forgotten under the heap of “Hail Larry” replays.
What were these plays?
The first was the one-handed grab by a diving Randall Cobb in the first half of the game. Cobb, was in blanket coverage running down the left side of the field when quarterback Aaron Rodgers heaved a bomb. Reaching out with his left hand, Cobb nabbed the ball cleanly and brought it into his body before being slammed into the turf by the Cardinals defender.
Not only did Cobb catch the ball, but he also came up coughing blood because of a chest injury he suffered in the fall. Moments later he would be carted off the field and taken to the hospital where he was kept overnight for observation.
Unfortunately, off-setting penalties would wipe that catch off the record books, but it was by far one of the best catches of 2015.
Odell Beckham, who?
Bookending Cobb’s first quarter catch were two in the final minute of the game – both made by Jeff Janis – yes, THAT Jeff Janis – the “People’s Champion.”
Forced into action because of the injury to Cobb, Janis had an incredible coming out for the Packers.
Many are wondering why this guy hasn’t been on the field this season … and judging by what he did Saturday night, those questions are legit.
But suffice to say, the coaches no doubt believe the guy has talent, but he’s been buried on the depth charts behind some pretty good receivers in front of him.
Needless to say, the final minute has not only cemented him onto the Packers roster for 2016, but in Packers lore for his catches.
The first came with the Packers inside their own 10 yard line facing a fourth down and 20 with less than one minute left in the game.
Rodgers took the snap, bought some time by running around a bit and then rolling to his left. When he moved toward the front of the end zone he launched a bomb that found Janis open nearly 70 yards downfield for an improbable first down.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
Not to be outdone, the game’s story – and Rodgers’ and Janis’s legacy – was about to continue to be written.
Once again, Rodgers did the improbable.
On the game’s final play of regulation, Rodgers took one more snap, rolled again to his left and without seeing much downfield, launched the ball … Janis was in the vicinity, got into position and outleaped the Cardinals defenders for the touchdown.
It seemed the Packers were destined to win this game.
But then came the overtime period, the “Hail Larry,” and the devastation in the desert for the Packers.
Everyone was talking about that last OT possession and how fitting it was for Larry Fitzgerald.
And lost in all that noise was the heroics of Cobb, Rodgers and Janis.
It was a crushing defeat in the Packers seventh all-time playoff overtime period – and for the second straight year, an overtime game that was lost without Aaron Rodgers ever having a chance to touch the ball.
In the end, the Cardinals move on to the Championship Game. The Packers limp home and hope for better things in 2016.
So do Packers fans.
But let’s keep the miracles alive and the memory of these three miraculous plays as a testament that this team has no quit in it.