The Green Bay Packers were down 23 points to start the second half against the San Francisco 49ers last week on Sunday Night Football, but coming out of the break there was a small reason for optimism. The Green Bay defense rose to the occasion, forcing a quick stop on San Fran’s first possession. Things were looking up.
What happened next was one of the largest atrocities against football ever witnessed. Needing to maximize the number of possessions remaining in the game, the Packers undertook a grueling, time-destroying 15-play drive. It was ugly, almost like they wanted to fail, but circumstances and the officials wouldn’t let them. Most of the time, getting a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the 3rd quarter will drastically increase your odds of coming back. This one all but ended the game.
Play One: It all started innocently enough.
Time:12:26 left (all times 3rd quarter).
Play: 1st and 10. Aaron Jones for 4.
Jones takes a hand-off out of shotgun, runs into Elgton Jenkins’ butt, and turns upfield for a modest four yard gain. The play was generally well blocked, and it looks as if Jones should have bounced is a bit earlier, but a fine effort. There’s nothing wrong with mixing in a few runs at this point in the game as long as your use is judicious, and you show some urgency getting to the line.
Play Two: When in doubt, throw to Davante.
Time: 11:48 left. Ball snapped with 8 seconds left on the play clock.
Play: 2nd and 6. Rodgers to Adams for 7.
This is your standard “throw it to Davante and let him make something happen” play, or as I like to call it, “the entire offensive game plan since Adams’ return.” He picks up a first down, and hey, we’ve got some momentum! Had he read Geronimo Allison’s pretty good block better, he may have even had a big play! Oh well. At least Davante touched the ball, and that’s what matters most.
Play Three: Re-Establish the run.
11:01 left. Ball snapped with 1 second left.
Play: 1st and 10. Aaron Jones runs right for 4 yards.
OK, fine, one more run just to let them know you’re willing. Keep the heavies out there. Make them think. It took a little while to get the play in last time so let’s all hustle back to the line of scrimmage and get this thing a-movin’!
Or not. But four yards, at least we’re on-time and on schedule. Not playing behind the sticks on this drive! Keeping Aaron Jones involved. Everything is A-OK, time to break out the big guns.
Play Four: A Minor Setback
Time: 10:19 left, ball snapped with 4 seconds left.
Play: 2nd and 6, Aaron Rodgers is sacked for -2 yards.
Despite re-establishing the run on the previous play, the added toughness gained by doing so doesn’t stick, and Aaron is brought down by the fierce San Francisco pass rush. Well, there’s really not much you can do about this, after all, your offensive line is beaten up, Bulaga is out, and did anyone even get open?
Adams and Lazard were both wide open. Huh. Well, Aaron has to get through his progressions, maybe he didn’t see them.
OK, so I’m starting to feel less good about this drive, but these things happen. It’s 3rd down, but Aaron will probably realize he just missed some guys and get the ball out quicker on the next play.
The clock is running! It’s been running this entire drive so far! It’s 3rd down and long! Time for some URGENCY guys! Guys? Guuuuuuuuuuys?
Play Five: Aaron must be concussed, or perhaps on drugs.
Time: 9:43 left, ball snapped with 11 second left.
Play: 3rd and 8, Aaron Rodgers runs for 4 yards.
11 seconds! That’s what I’m talking about! Get things rolling. Matty got the play in quick, Aaron liked what he saw, and most importantly the 49ers couldn’t start the rush based on the play clock. Unfortunately, Aaron decided to pull it down and take off running, coming up well short of a first down, and forcing a fourth down decision. It’s too bad no one was open.
Oh man. Well, maybe Adams was his first read and he never got back to Lazard, and you know how young guys are on the scramble drill, it takes a lot of time to develop chemistry, and to recognize the situation and get yourself open.
Or, maybe Aaron was still looking away when Lazard broke open?
Maybe Aaron hates Lazard? Maybe he hates himself? I’m kinda starting to after watching this play over a few times.
Play Six: See, running backs ARE valuable
Time: 9:01 left, ball snapped with 2 seconds left.
Play: 4th and 4, Jamaal Williams with a 15 yard catch for a first down.
Jamaal Williams makes this entire play happen by himself. Fred Warner bluffs a blitz, which causes Williams to hustle across the formation to pick him up.
Warner then drops into coverage, and, for the first time this drive, all of the receivers are absolutely covered. This happens because they run idiotic routes either to the sticks, or 10 yards beyond the sticks, and then just stand around. No one beats man-to-man, and Aaron is in trouble because the 49ers brought five rushers.
Williams makes his way back across the formation looking for stray blitzers, and finding none, goes out into the pattern. Jimmy Graham, in an unusual bout of usefulness, takes his man to the middle of the field (and even pops open), leaving Williams with nothing but real estate.
It takes a circus throw from Aaron, but 15 yards later the Packers are in business with a first down. Had Aaron Jones been in the game he houses this pass, but then again, I’m also not sure he gets himself in the right position. This was the Packers’ most valuable play of the game by EPA, mostly because their starting expected points were so low.
Play Seven: Re-Re-Establishing the Run - Jamaal Edition
Time: 8:24 left, ball snapped with 16 seconds remaining.
Play: 1st and 10, Jamaal for 2.
San Fran this one sniffed out pretty well. Here, Jones may have made a difference as a more cut to the outside looked to be open. Unfortunately the 49ers are good and Williams is Williams. On to 2nd and 8. Oh, guys, the clock is still running.
Play Eight: All Jamaal
Time: 7:48 left, ball snapped with 6 seconds remaining.
Play: 2nd and 8, Aaron Rodgers to Jamaal Williams for 9 yards.
The Packers have six blocking four, and Aaron has all kinds of time.
San Fran has everything covered deep and so Aaron checks it down to the only guy who matters. Hey, this drive that started with over 12 minutes left is half over!
Play Nine: Marcedes fails, but then succeeds at failing.
Time: 7:00 left, ball snapped with 1 second remaining.
Play: 1st and 10, Aaron Rodgers to Marcedes Lewis for -1 yards. Facemask on SF FTW.
Matty tries some trickeration with a fake screen to Aaron Jones, while Marcedes leaks out the backside. Unfortunately, the 49ers have apparently seen this one on tape, and while Jones would have had a nice gain,
Lewis is bottled up pretty quickly. This disaster turns into a positive when Marcedes is brought down by his facemask. The whole thing is the football equivalent of leaking out the backside.
Play Ten: Time to Re-Re-Re-Establish the run.
Tme: 6:33 left, ball snapped with 6 seconds remaining.
Play: 1st and 10, Aaron Jones for 2 and a cloud of dust.
Jones hits the hole hard, but despite a lot of pre-snap movement, the Niners stay home, crash down hard, and stop Jones immediately. God I love running plays 10 yards away from the end zone. Definitely not a waste of a down. Oh, and the clock is still going. Still.
Play Eleven: When in doubt, throw it to Davante
Time: 5:53 left, ball snapped with 0 seconds left. Honestly, I don’t think they got it off.
Play: 2nd and 8, The old “get it to Davante in space” play that works so well.
You’ve got to get the ball into the hands of your playmaker, and the best way to do that is with a sure tackler bearing down on him.
Allen Lazard was open a ton in this game, but he whiffed big time here and the defense swarmed to the ball immediately. Green Bay was far too reliant on variations of this play during the game, and hey, the clock is still running.
Play Twelve: Let’s take a quick timeout. 5:10 remaining.
This post has gone on for quite a while, so let’s take a quick timeout to hit the head, maybe get a refill, etc. Also, because the Packers took a timeout. Because they’re not in a hurry at all even though this drive is already seven minutes old they probably won’t need a timeout later to get the ball back.
Play Twelve: Nine Seconds we’ll never have back.
Time: 5:10 left. Ball snapped with 7 seconds left.
Play: A big huge pile of hot flaming garbage.
The Packers go five wide and Rodgers has excellent protection, but no one is open and Aaron Panics. Alex Light provided that protection with a hold, and Aaron, feeling pressure, retreated to the 20 yard line where he threw the ball away. Fortunately for Green Bay, referees hate Richard Sherman, and he was flagged for an offsetting illegal contact penalty. Let’s try this again.
Play Twelve: For real this time.
Time: 5:01 left. Ball snapped with 5 seconds remaining.
Play: Rodgers runs for five yards and Green Bay MVP Richard Sherman commits another penalty.
We’re almost there. Almost. By the way, in case you have forgotten the Packers are down 23-0. Fortunately they have an entire two qua...an entire quarter and a third. They send everyone into the end zone which means the 49ers just have to flood the end zone, which they do. With nobody open Aaron takes off, and the Shermanator keeps on giving. It’s first and goal at the two. We’re so, so close. So close.
Play Thirteen: Re-Re-Re-Re-Re-establish the run.
Time: 4:33 remaining. Ball snapped with 7 seconds remaining.
Play: Jones stuffed. Don’t wanna score too fast.
Lazard goes in motion, fakes a jet sweep, and Jones trips and gets stuffed. Let’s try it again. In a little while.
Play Fourteen: We can all relax
Time: 3:55 remaining. Ball snapped with 5 seconds remaining.
Play: Touchdown! Davante Adams!
Davante does that thing Lazard did last play and he catches Rodgers “pass” and takes it in. The Packers go for 2 and convert! The 49ers lead is down to 15! We have a game with almost 2 quarte...just over 1 quarter left!
We just need to get the ball back and