Sept 9, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) tries to break a tackle by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown (25) at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
There's not much to say except that this game was terrible. We'll attempt a recap anyway.
The Green Bay Packers played poorly for four quarters, inexplicably got back into the game, tried to beat themselves, got back into the game again, then failed to close it out. It was the worst kind of loss.
Incredibly, the Packers came within one score of the San Fransisco 49ers and had a chance to tie in the fourth quarter despite playing poorly for the majority of the game, but they came up short on their final drive. The 49ers defense brought their best when they needed a stop most and San Francisco held on for a 30-22 win.
Green Bay's offense didn't manage to get anything going until the middle of the second quarter, while the 49ers offense moved the ball effectively. The Packers forced them into a three-and-out on their first drive, thanks to a sack on 3rd down by Clay Matthews, but the Niners moved the ball 60 yards on their next drive to set up a field goal, the first score of the game.
The Packers were forced into a punt on their next drive and their defense was picked apart once again by the 49ers. Alex Smith marched his team down the field, partially thanks to some poor calls by the Packers defense. Dom Capers emphasized stopping the run and left his team in their base 3-4 set frequently. Not only was this ineffective at its primary goal -- Frank Gore had a 10-yard rush on this drive -- it also left linebackers on slot receivers frequently. This led to numerous easy passes for Smith, including the touchdown pass that made the score 10-0. Randy Moss was left completely uncovered on the play and allowed to score easily.
On their next drive, the Packers showed some signs of life. They put together an excellent 10-play drive for a touchdown, kicked off by a stellar 28-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. The drive featured four flags and was capped off with a one-yard touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley.
The 49ers would add two more field goals before the end of the half to go up 16-7 at the break. The first of those field goals was a 43-yard effort at the end of their next drive. The second was a bit more unconventional. With just 18 seconds left in the 2nd quarter, the 49ers put in Colin Kaepernick at quarterback, and he broke off a 17-yard run to get the Niners to the edge of field goal range. David Akers stepped up and nailed a 63-yarder to tie the NFL record, just barely hitting it far enough to find the crossbar.
The third quarter, as well as the beginning of the fourth quarter, was a disaster for the Packers. They kicked off the quarter with a three-and-out, and were also forced into burning one of their timeouts. The 49ers drove down the field easily on their next possession, with Smtih finding Davis for a touchdown to make it 23-7. The Packers were forced into punts on each of their next two drives, and the game looked out of reach until Randall Cobb gave Green Bay new life.
With just under 12 minutes remaining in the game, Randall Cobb ripped off a spectacular 75-yard punt return touchdown to completely change the game. The officials threw a flag for a block in the back, but picked up the flag and allowed the touchdown to stand. Unfortunately, the replay showed that Terrell Manning did commit a block in the back that should have been called. The Packers scored on the 2-point conversion to cut San Francisco's lead to 23-15.
San Francisco's next drive was a three-and-out, and at that point, all of the momentum appeared to be with Green Bay. They managed to throw away that momentum in a matter of just two plays. On the first play of their next drive, Aaron Rodgers failed to spot NaVorro Bowman and threw an inexplicable interception. One play later, Gore broke multiple tackles and plowed into the end zone on an impressive 23-yard touchdown run. In less than 20 seconds of game time, what felt like an imminent Packers comeback turned into a comfortable 49ers lead.
Surprisingly, the Packers played their way right back into the game. Rodgers engineered a fantastic drive on the Packers' next possession. He went to James Jones for three consecutive plays, including the final play of the drive, a 10-yard touchdown. The Packers defense came up with a stop on the 49ers' next possession, giving Rodgers a chance to force overtime.
He wasn't able to pull it off, and the 49ers defense came up huge when they were needed most. After a couple of first downs got the Packers into San Francisco territory, Ahmad Brooks came up with a massive sack on 2nd and 10 from the San Fransisco 45. Rodgers found Cobb with a completion on 3rd down, but the Packers only got seven yards out of the play. On 4th and 10, Rodgers threw what was almost a desperation pass up to Nelson, but Chris Culliver was positioned perfectly and swatted the ball away to force a turnover on downs and preserve the 49ers' lead.
From the 49ers' perspective, they did exactly what they had to do to win the game. They didn't stop Aaron Rodgers, but contained him to the tune of 303 yards, two touchdowns and a 93.3 QB rating. On offense, they managed 5.8 yards per carry on the ground and Smith managed the game well, taking the easy throws he was gifted by the Packers' defense and avoiding mistakes.
A one-score loss to what is possibly the best team (and almost certainly the best defense) in football is hardly embarrassing, but they aren't expected to lose at home to anyone. They'll have to figure out what went wrong quickly ahead of Thursday night's crucial matchup against the Chicago Bears.
Before we leave you, let's see what Jim Harbaugh thinks about the replacement refs.