Jeff Janis forces OT with Hail Mary catch, but celebration short-lived

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- All season, Green Bay Packers fans clamored for Jeff Janis to be on the field.

If there were ever a time for them to say “I told you so,” it was Saturday night, when the second-year wide receiver lay in the end zone of University of Phoenix Stadium, cradling a 41-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers that sent the Packers’ NFC divisional playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals into overtime.

Janis came into Saturday's game with two receptions for 79 yards on the season and four career catches after entering the league last year as a seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State. He went up between Cardinals defenders Patrick Peterson and Rashad Johnson to catch Rodgers’ prayer as time expired. Mason Crosby’s ensuing extra point tied the game at 20-20.

That miracle play ended up being for naught, as the Cardinals scored on the opening possession of overtime, after Larry Fitzgerald took off on a 75-yard throwback pass from Carson Palmer. He scored two plays later on a 5-yard shovel pass for a 26-20 win.

Janis was forced into action after wide receiver Randall Cobb suffered a chest injury in the first half of the game and was unable to return. The Packers were already without Davante Adams, who was inactive because of a knee injury suffered the previous week at Washington, and their two other top receivers, Pro Bowler Jordy Nelson, who was injured in the preseason, and rookie Ty Montgomery, who is on injured reserve after ankle surgery.

On the play to end regulation, Rodgers escaped pressure and rolled to his left, unleashing a heave toward the end zone and Janis. Janis went up between Peterson and Johnson and pulled the ball in, which marked the second time the Packers have had a Hail Mary prayer answered this season. Rodgers found tight end Richard Rodgers for a 61-yard touchdown to beat the Detroit Lions on Dec. 3 at Ford Field.