Jared Cook toed the line on the catch that knocked the Cowboys out of the playoffs. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News/Associated Press)

In January, Aaron Rodgers called the play “schoolyard.” How else to describe it as he appeared in the huddle to be directing his receivers on the routes he wanted them to run? How else to describe the roll-out that ended with a pass threaded to Jared Cook, who managed to drag his toes as he stayed in bounds?

Well, it turns out the play was more complex than “schoolyard” might imply, and the backstory is even more interesting than the iconic “drawn in the dirt” status it has achieved in the months since the game. The pass led to Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal that knocked the Cowboys from the playoffs, and you’re bound to hear about it again Sunday as the teams meet again at 4:25 p.m. EDT.

Although cameras showed Rodgers’s gestures to Cook, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Trevor Davis, the play gestated for months.

“The things that I do on the field most of the time come with deep thought and contemplation — weeks, months before they actually happen,” Rodgers told Jason Wilde of the State Journal. “Sometimes days, sometimes even hours. Sometimes I think of something before a game and say, ‘Hey, we get this situation, I might check to this’ or ‘I’m thinking maybe this.’ But plays like that one [in January], that is something I thought about for a few months.”

Months. So much for Cobb’s drawn-in-the-dirt description that day.

“I thought about it for a few months and how to call it and how to kind of put it in so guys would know what to do. And that’s how kind of my brain works at times. Things hit me in the moment and you learn to just … trust it.”

And it happens more often than you might think.

“We have these moments where he says, ‘I got it,’ ” Cobb told Wilde. “There’s not really much that amazes us anymore. The throw amazes you more than him drawing it up, I would say. I think we’re kind of used to that now that he tries different things in different situations.

“I mean, it was the same thing as what happened with my catch against the Bears in 2013, the game-winner. That was a play he drew up in the sand right before. And then I just broke off my route. And we were on the same page.”

Call it a moment of Zen.

“Plays like that are about manifesting positive thoughts. In that situation, I’ve told myself that it’s a possibility months before,” Rodgers said. ” ‘If we’re ever in this type of situation, not a bad play would be to do this … roll left and have a guy leak out and have everybody come to the side of the roll.’ That’s part of the power of positive thinking and also other forms of preparation. It’s not just about the film watching or studying your plan. It’s training your mind to go to those places and those situations.”

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