Saturday’s NFC divisional game between the Cardinals and Packers was an instant classic. Arizona won 26–20 in overtime thanks to clutch play from Larry Fitzgerald, but only after a back-and-forth fourth quarter and an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary pass.
Here are the five craziest moments from the game‘s wild finish.
Bruce Arians’s gutsy play-calling
You have to hand it to Cardinals coach Bruce Arians—he doesn’t shy away from who he is. Arizona’s coach dialed up a pass play with the Cardinals nursing a 17–13 lead and the Packers out of timeouts with less than three minutes to go. An incomplete throw from Carson Palmer stopped the clock, and when Arizona ultimately settled for a field goal, Aaron Rodgers had enough time left for a potential game-tying drive.
Green Bay is no stranger to insane fourth down completions. Reminiscent of the fourth-and-26 conversion the Eagles pulled off against them last decade, the Packers upped the absurdity Saturday, as Rodgers found Jeff Janis for 60 yards on fourth-and-20 to keep the game alive on Green Bay’s final drive of regulation. Janis came up huge for the Packers, stepping up in place of an injured Randall Cobb. His catch brought the Pack into Arizona territory, setting up an even crazier moment.
The Hail Mary
This could have been the play of the post-season. On the last play of regulation, Rodgers found Janis for an unbelievable 41-yard Hail Mary as time expired. Janis caught the ball in between two defenders after Rodgers made a bold throw in the face of a blitzing pass rush. Referees reviewed the play, ruling Janis’s effort a catch even with the ball squirming around as he hit the ground.
The coin toss
Has this ever happened before? Not even an actual play, the overtime coin toss could be the most memorable moment from Saturday’s game. Referee Clete Blakeman intially flubbed the toss, as his first attempt didn’t actually flip the coin. To the Packers’ annoyance, Blakeman flipped the coin again without asking Rodgers if he wanted to change his call. On the second toss, Arizona won possession of the ball for good.
Ultimately, a sublime performance from Fitzgerald put the Cardinals in the NFC championship game. A proven playoff performer, Fitzgerald made two huge plays in overtime to carry Arizona to a win. On the first play of overtime, Fitzgerald made an incredible, weaving 75-yard catch-and-run, conjuring memories of his late touchdown during Super Bowl XLIII.
Two plays later, Fitzgerald clinched the win with a five-yard touchdown reception on a shovel pass from Palmer.