DETROIT – For 30 minutes of football, they were a team in disarray. All across America, TV viewers were asking, "What's happened to the Packers?"
Then something changed. After a month of seemingly endless bad events, the Packers became the team they seemingly always had been. All of a sudden, the Packers began to move the ball.
A 75-yard touchdown drive cut the Lions' lead to 20-7. A 12-yard touchdown drive, thanks to Julius Peppers' sack-strip of Matt Stafford, moved the Packers to within 20-14.
The Packers traveled east to take on the Detroit Lions in a Thursday night matchup. Photos by Jim Biever, Packers.com.
Eventually, the Packers would be faced with a 23-14 deficit with 7:06 to play in the game. This was the acid test. If these Packers were, indeed, the Packers of old, they would move the ball down the field with the old Packers' accustomed ease. They did, 84 yards in 11 plays, and now the Packers were within one score of completing an improbable comeback.
The comeback was completed on a 61-yard desperation heave from Aaron Rodgers to tight end Richard Rodgers on a final-play, untimed down. All of a sudden, Packernation is happy, again. All of a sudden, the Packers are the darlings of their domain, again.
Play calling? It was the greatest play call of the season.
"What a great game to be a part of. Great game to watch. I'm sure TV is happy. We're very happy. We needed a win like that. Guys kept battling. That's really the story of tonight's win," Coach Mike McCarthy said.
The win put a smile on McCarthy's face following a month of frowning. All of a sudden, all is right with the world. Winning will do that for an embattled team and coach.
"It counts as one win. It feels like more. We feel that way. I do. This is a big-time win," McCarthy said.
The analysts will struggle with this one. What caused the change in the Packers? What schematic genius did this? Maybe time did it. Maybe it was just time.
"We knew we had to scrap to get a win. We're not naïve to the fact we need to improve. We'll get healthy and be ready for Dallas," McCarthy said.
The importance of Thursday's win can't be understated. It may have saved the Packers' playoff hopes. They were fading fast. One TV analyst show this past week featured a segment entitled, "The Packers are a sinking ship."
"I don't know about that," Aaron Rodgers said when asked if the win makes the Packers a hot team. "It's a helluva game, big one for us. It keeps us right in the mix for the playoffs. This one ranks up there as one of the greatest joys we've had as a team."
"This gives you a chance to look inside," McCarthy said. "We had to win this game. But we need to improve. Our details are not there. We'll improve from this victory."
Maybe this is the win that will have changed everything. In the moments immediately following the game, it had that feel to it.