Aaron Rodgers (Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson/ USA TODAY Sports)
The game was a slug fest. When one team would score the other would answer. When one team made a defensive stop, the other would counter again. For the third time in 12 months, the Packers and 49ers took the field against one another and showed why each could be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. In the end, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick beat the Green Bay Packers not with his legs like in the playoffs, but with his arm, which proved to be too much for the Packers secondary.
The two teams traded punts for the first three drives of the game before the 49ers drove down the field, ending in a Kaepernick touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis. On the next drive for the Packers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers went to work. In only one minute and 47 seconds, the Packers offense drove 80 yards down the field, scoring on a Rodgers touchdown pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb. The game of back and forth was just beginning.
In the second round of the NFL draft, the Packers selected running back Eddie Lacy, hoping to end their rushing woes. Three minutes into the second quarter, Lacy suffered his first rookie mistake, fumbling the football at the Packers own 14 yard line, which gave the 49ers excellent field position. The 49ers next drive provided some hot tempers and a controversial call from the referees.
On a third and six, Kaepernick scrambled left and ran out of bounds, two yards short of the first down. As Kaepernick was heading out of bounds, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews dove and tackled Kaepernick, resulting in a dead ball penalty, late hit out of bounds. After the play, 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley got into it with Matthews, and also got a personal foul, which resulted in offsetting penalties. Since the penalties were after the play and offset, the 49ers should have had fourth and two, but the refs mistakenly said to replay the third and six. On that third down, Kaepernick connected with former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin for the touchdown. That Kaepernick to Boldin duo would out to be a deadly combination.
On the Packers next drive, Rodgers looked for tight end Jermichael Finley over the middle of the field. Finley, who has had issues catching the football, let the ball go through his hands, into 49ers safety Eric Reid’s arms for an interception. After stopping the 49ers’ next drive, Rodgers connected with Finley on a touchdown to tie the game at the half. Kaepernick opened the second half with a two yard touchdown pass to Davis to give the 49ers a seven point lead. Rodgers then responded with a touchdown to wide receiver Jordy Nelson to again tie the game at 21 as the game headed to the fourth quarter.
49ers kicker Phil Dawson opened the fourth quarter with a field goal to give San Francisco a three point lead. Two Packers possessions later, Lacy redeemed himself, scoring his first career touchdown to give the Packers their first lead of the game. Kaepernick answered with his new favorite target Boldin, completing a 32 yard pass that got the 49ers deep into Packers territory, and then scored on a Frank Gore one yard touchdown run. Down by three, Rodgers took the field, looking to lead a comeback, but fell short. The Packers went three and out, while the 49ers ran the ball down the field and converted a huge third down from Kaepernick to Boldin.
Dawson kicked another field goal, giving the Packers a chance to win the game, but Rodgers was sacked on a Hail Mary attempt from the 49ers 42 yard line as time expired, giving the 49ers the 34-28 victory. As I said earlier, Kaepernick torched the Packers secondary, throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns. Boldin also shined, catching 13 passes for 208 yards. On the Packers side of the ball, Rodgers had a good game, passing for 333 yards, three touchdowns, and that one interception off of Finley’s hands. It was a hard fought battle all the way until the end, but the Packers came up just short. Next up for the Packers is their home opener against the Washington Redskins.