The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers have had some memorable playoff matchups in the past, and Sunday's wild card game was no different. With Lambeau Field as cold as an icebox, the 49ers outlasted the Packers, 23-20, thanks to a last-second field goal by Phil Dawson. They have now ended the Packers' season two years in a row.
With two minutes left and the score tied, Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers down inside Green Bay territory. He converted a big third down with his legs, getting into field goal range. The 49ers milked the clock down and set up Dawson for the game-winner.
Despite the frigid temperatures, the 49ers started off hot on offense. Colin Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree early and often, hooking up with his top wideout four times on the opening drive including a 4th and 6 bomb down to the 4-yard line. Kaepernick drove the 49ers to the redzone on their first two drives, but the Packers' defense forced them to settle for field goals both times.
Green Bay caught a break when Tramon Williams picked off Kaepernick early in the second quarter. From there, Aaron Rodgers found a spark. After completing no passes in the first quarter, Rodgers led a flawless drive down to the goal line and hit Jordy Nelson for a 5-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 7-6 lead. That lead was short lived; a 42-yard run by Kaepernick set up a 10-yard score by Frank Gore. The Packers kicked a field goal and went into halftime down, 13-10.
The Packers turned to the running game, with Eddie Lacy and James Starks grinding out chunks of yards. The highlight of the drive was Rodgers escaping a sure sack to hit Randall Cobb near the goal line on 4th down. John Kuhn punched it in to give Green Bay the 17-13 lead. The Packers' lead only lasted one drive after Kaepernick threw a 28-yard dart to Vernon Davis. Rodgers led the Packers right back down to the red zone on the next drive, and Mason Crosby kicked a game-tying field goal with just over five minutes left, but Rodgers never saw the ball again as Kaepernick clinched the game for San Francisco.Jon Benne
With four minutes left and the score tied, Kaepernick nearly threw a back-breaking interception, but Micah Hyde dropped the pick. On the next play, Kaepernick hit Crabtree for a crucial first down that kept the game-winning drive alive.
"The 49ers had their backs against the walls, but they responded. It wasn't pretty, but the San Francisco 49ers won and live to fight another day! The 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers by a final score of 23-20 behind a mix of big defensive plays, huge Colin Kaepernick plays, bigger Michael Crabtree plays, and of course, Phil Dawson."
-- Niners Nation
The 49ers face the Carolina Panthers on the road next Sunday, Jan. 12, at 1:05 p.m. ET, in a rematch of their Week 10 slugfest. The Panthers won that game, 10-9, thanks to a ferocious defense that held Colin Kaepernick to just 91 passing yards. The 49ers didn't have Michael Crabtree in that game, though, making him a matchup concern against Carolina's secondary.