The coverage from the Detroit Lions on the game-ending Hail Mary by the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night was terrible.
Part of the reason for that is because the Lions weren’t anticipating a Hail Mary in the first place.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said after the game that they were anticipating a catch-and-lateral play instead of a throw into the end zone by Aaron Rodgers.
“In that situation, we have a couple different things that we do,” Caldwell said. “That was one where you were kind of looking for that pass and back-and-forth kind of thing because of the range. (Rodgers) ran around there so long, moved up, gave himself a chance to get it in the end zone. We had plenty of guys back there. We had plenty of guys. We just didn’t make the play. They did.”
The Lions used just a three-man rush on the play. Devin Taylor and Jason Jones both nearly got to Rodgers, but he evaded and broke outside the pocket. The problem comes from the Lions having two defenders standing in no-man’s land near midfield with just six defenders covering Green Bay’s five receivers in the end zone.
That left Richard Rodgers completely uncovered at the goal line to grab Aaron Rodgers’ desperation heave toward the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
A throw of 60-plus yards is starting to reach the limit of effective Hail Mary range, but it seems more plausible to rally defenders to a ball thrown short for the purposes of a lateral play than to allow receivers to have a chance to find space in the end zone.
Caldwell is right. They did have enough defenders in the end zone to stop the play but they failed in their attempt to keep the Packers out of the end zone. The extra couple defenders could have proved to be the difference.