By Ashley Scoby
Packers’ offensive lineman TJ Lang’s prayers were answered.READ MORE: Michigan Announces $1.5 Million Tuition Giveaway, 100 Children To Receive $15,000
When the Lions only lined up three pass rushers against Aaron Rodgers right before he tossed a game-winning 61-yard Hail Mary shot to the end zone, it was a dream come true for Green Bay.
“You pray they’re going to rush three people,” said Lang, who sat out Thursday’s game with a shoulder injury, and was a guest on Friday’s Valenti and Foster show. “You’re guaranteed two double teams. … We feast on that, when we see three guys lined up.”
It wasn’t the only head-scratching decision from the Lions Thursday, the combination of which led to the miracle finish. Out of those three pass rushers, none was Ezekiel Ansah, who is second in the NFL this season in sacks and easily the biggest problem that Detroit has on its defensive line.
“It was pretty surprising,” Lang said of the decision to line up Ansah on the perimeter instead of in front of Rodgers. “I thought he might be out there to try to jam him up and then rush him late.”
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said after the game he was expecting the Packers to run “more of that pass back and forth kind of thing” (also known as a lateral play).READ MORE: AAA Offers 'Tow To Go' Program During Memorial Day Weekend
Since the Lions had more guys in a contain role, prepared to stop a lateral situation from developing, they had fewer dropped back to defend the end zone and goal line.
“I don’t know if the Lions just underestimated his arm strength or whatever it was,” Lang said. “Once we got around the 40-yard-line, everybody knew what was coming just based off Aaron’s strength and knowing how far he can throw the ball.”
Rodgers hurled a 61-yard pass that came a few yards from hitting the Ford Field rafters because it was thrown so high. By that time, tight end Richard Rodgers had gotten into position near the goal line, with the entire Lions’ defense behind him.
Yet another surprise for many Lions fans – and Lang – was that 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson was not on the field during the final play. He has practiced previously in Hail Mary situations, and teams often will put their tallest players into those situations.
Johnson, who also is on the field during onside kick situations because of his hands, could have potentially jumped up and batted down the ball, had he been in position near the goal line.MORE NEWS: Holiday Travel And Gas: What To Expect At The Pump
“That was something, too,” Lang said. “I looked towards the end zone from where I was standing, and I didn’t see him (Johnson) out there, I was surprised … Every team at least tries to get their tallest guy back there. That was surprising but after hearing the explanation, like I said, they must have just underestimated Aaron’s arm.”