In quick succession, the Green Bay Packers saw a pair of their top defensive players leave the field with injuries during the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. Health has been the team’s friend all season long until this game, which now sees three defensive starters banged up.
Midway through the third quarter, with the 49ers driving, Jaire Alexander made a tackle on 49ers running back Raheem Mostert. Alexander was slow to get up after that play, and headed to the locker room while holding his right hand. The team officially announced that he is questionable to return with a thumb injury.
A few plays later, outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith went down after tackling Mostert for no gain. Smith made it back to the sideline, but the 49ers scored on the very next play, a 22-yard run by Mostert, to extend their lead to 34-7. Even if he returns, the Packers cannot stop the run, with Mostert now up to 196 yards on 19 carries with four touchdowns.
These injuries came on the heels of the loss of safety Adrian Amos, who was lost for the game just before halftime.
Even if the Packers’ offense wakes up, the defense must find a way to stop the 49ers to give them a shot at a comeback. So far that has happened on only one drive — the 49ers’ first offensive series, which ended in a three-and-out. Since that time, the Packers have allowed the 49ers to score either a field goal or a touchdown on six straight series.
UPDATE: Alexander has officially been ruled out of the game as of the start of the fourth quarter.