GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers rolled out to his right and, from about midfield, uncorked a Hail Mary pass that soared high into the frigid Green Bay air. The ball looked like it was headed out of the end zone, then dropped practically straight down. Receiver Randall Cobb, behind four Giants defenders in the back of the end zone, made an uncontested catch for a Hail Mary touchdown.
"It felt amazing," Rodgers said. "It felt like it was meant to be today."
The Packers, all but left for dead at 4-6 following four consecutive losses, have won seven in a row. Much like the play itself, Rodgers feels like this season is meant to be.
"Yes, I do," he said with a smile.
The Hail Mary jump-started an unexpected blowout between these two NFC heavyweights. Rodgers was on the other end of a Hail Mary in the playoffs during the 2011 season. The Packers, coming off a 15-1 regular season, gave up a Hail Mary touchdown to the Giants' Hakeem Nicks at the end of the first half on Jan. 15, 2012. The Giants led 20-10 at halftime and rolled to a 37-20 win.
"It sucked," Rodgers recalled.
Rodgers stunned the Lions with a game-winning Hail Mary to tight end Richard Rodgers at Detroit in Week 13 of last season, then stunned the Cardinals with a game-tying Hail Mary to receiver Jeff Janis at the end of regulation in last year's divisional playoff game at Arizona. Rodgers' mind, however, went back more than 22 years ago.
"That's three in the last calendar year or so," Rodgers said. "It's fun. Every single time, it's fun. I think we're starting to believe any time that ball goes up there that we've got a chance. I can throw it pretty good, but it's got to happen on the other end, as well. I was actually just watching (the replay) before I walked in here, and it looks like -- as is the case many times in these situations -- there was a little bit of a misjudging of the football by the middle of the pack. As I watch it, it reminds me of the (Doug) Flutie-(Gerard) Phelan catch (for Boston College against Miami on Nov. 23, 1984), where he just kind of sneaks behind the last defender."
The Packers practice the Hail Mary every week during their Saturday practice, though it's been backup Brett Hundley throwing the pass for most of the season.
"It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable," Cobb said. "We practice it once a week, (but) it's more for the defense to give them an opportunity to break it up. But he makes the throw, and guys are misjudging it and one of us is able to come up with it."
On this one, the ball was designed for receiver Davante Adams.
"My job on that play is to kind of box out and give our jumper (Adams) a little space to jump," Cobb said. "But I got behind the defense and was able to nudge a guy and make the catch."
Cobb's nudge of safety Leon Hall cleared out just enough room for a relatively easy touchdown catch. It was the first of Cobb's NFL postseason-record-tying three touchdown catches.
"Not too much" of a nudge, he said. "They didn't throw a flag so I guess it was enough."
Giants All-Pro safety Landon Collins said "nothing" went wrong defensively.
"We just thought the ball was overthrown, so we all jumped," he said. "But the ball was overthrown and Cobb just stay inbounds and just reach out and caught it. That was about it."
The play was a deflater for the Giants, especially on defense. Early in the second quarter, the Packers had minus-8 yards. By night's end, Rodgers was 25 of 40 for 362 yards, with four touchdown passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 125.2.
"It gave them the momentum," Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. "Defensively, when you play a half like we did, we felt like we were getting after him and breaking up some passes. We had things pretty much on lock to a certain extent. We came out ready to play in the second half, but (Rodgers) took advantage of some of our coverages on the back end while extending plays."