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Final 8 Minutes Provide Difference Between Packers, 49ers

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Final 8 Minutes Provide Difference Between Packers, 49ers

For the better part of 52 minutes Sunday, the Green Bay Packers matched the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers stride-for-stride, punch-for-punch.

It was the final eight minutes of the season opener in San Francisco that sent the Packers home with a 0-1 start instead of a statement win against a fellow conference heavyweight. From the midway point on in the fourth quarter, the 49ers made all the plays in the biggest moments as the Packers wilted under the game's pressure.

With 8:26 left, Green Bay took its first lead of the contest on Eddie Lacy's two-yard dive. The 49ers then responded with a five-play scoring drive that took all of two minutes and 39 seconds, and after Green Bay went three-and-out on its next series, San Francisco chewed up nearly four-and-half of the remaining five minutes with an 11-play drive that spanned 50 yards and resulted in a field goal.

The Packers finally got the ball back with 26 seconds left and no timeouts. The game was over.

"Really, the last eight minutes of the game was probably our biggest disappointment as a team," Packers head coach McCarthy said. "We need to learn from that. We looked at the sequence as a football team, and it'll be an emphasis for us as we get ready for Washington."

Failures on both sides of the football contributed to the 49ers dominating the second half of the final quarter.

San Francisco's scoring drive that canceled out Lacy's touchdown was the perfect counter punch, and it's velocity and ease seemed to suck all the life out of momentum that had been building on the Green Bay sideline.

On the drive's second play, Colin Kaepernick hit veteran Anquan Boldin for a 43-yard reception that featured a number of missed tackles from the Packers' struggling secondary. A play later, running back Kendall Hunter kept on the dive off right tackle for 23 yards, setting up San Francisco with first-and-goal from the Green Bay nine-yard line. Frank Gore sliced his way for eight yards on first down, before patiently following his blockers a play later for what ended up being the game-winning score.

While the Packers were so good at responding to 49ers scores for the first 52 minutes—Green Bay followed a San Francisco scoring play with an eventual touchdown on each of the first four occasions—Aaron Rodgers and the offense managed just three plays between the 49ers two scores.

Rodgers threw incomplete to Randall Cobb to kick off the series, and then scrambled for seven on second down. His third down scramble resulted in a chance for Jordy Nelson, but the Packers best receiver Sunday couldn't hang on and Tim Masthay was brought on to punt with just over five minutes to play. Rodgers wouldn't get the football ball until the game was essentially over, thanks in large part to more defensive failures.

On third-and-four early during the ensuing drive, Kaepernick found Vernon Davis on a clever playcall that was designed to get the tight end wide open in the left flat. Like most of the 49ers receivers on this afternoon, Davis was without a defender in his general vicinity, as Jarrett Bush was late reacting after Kaepernick's playaction fake froze most of the Packers defenders. Davis picked up an easy 15 yards and the 49ers continued their march.

After holding Gore to eight yards on three carries and calling the third of their the second-half timeouts, the Packers were presented the opportunity of giving Rodgers the football back with just under three minutes left.

Instead, Kaepernick rolled to his right under little pressure and found Boldin, who caught 13 passes for 208 yards on the afternoon, for a 15-yard gain that all but wrapped up a season-opening win for the 49ers. The Packers originally had the route concept covered, but Boldin used his big frame to create subtle separation from Tramon Williams and Kaepernick delivered a frozen rope that hit the 33-year-old between the 8 and 1.

Without any timeouts remaining, the Packers were helpless to stop the clock, and the 49ers later kicked a 33-yard field goal with 26 seconds left that extended San Francisco's lead to 34-28. Green Bay's last ditch effort at a Hail Mary ended with Rodgers not being able to get a final heave into the end zone.

The first 52 minutes of Sunday's contest left each team with a reasonable chance to win the football game. Despite two first-half turnovers that led to scoring opportunities for the 49ers (touchdown, missed field goal), the Packers fought the early adversity and positioned themselves to escape San Francisco with a win over one of the NFC's elite.

But with the game on the line, the 49ers imposed their will on both sides of the football and took the game's outcome by the horns. The final eight minutes provided a convincing knockout blow to the Packers, who had otherwise stood strong every time San Francisco landed an uppercut to the chin.

Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (52) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Taco's picture

It wasn't really even the last 8 minutes, it was just the deciding drive at the 5:00 mark where the offense failed. That was the difference. But something to keep this in perspective, and to provide my fellow Packer fans with some hope, is one of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan (who, BTW, resembles Aaron Rodgers more than the trite NFL comparisons we're usually force fed):

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." --MJ

Zach Kruse's picture

So the drive that the 49ers took the lead with almost no resistance from GB wasn't a deciding factor in the final outcome? Can't buy that.

Taco's picture

No, I've just come to expect that from our defense. It's not a close out defense. But from our MVP QB? Oh hell, yeah. He's a closer....most of the time.

Cow42's picture

If Vick stays healthy, the Eagles might hang 60 on the Packers.
They are killing thev'skims and Washington's defense is light years ahead of ours.

Zach Kruse's picture

My goodness Cow, you are insufferable.

Cow42's picture

Did you watch that first half? Imagine Capers trying to figure that shit out. Jackson's gonna have 150 and 2 easy.

Aaron Nagler's picture

"Did you watch that first half?"

Did you watch the whole game?

Of course not.

Cow42's picture

Yes, I did.
Kelly shut his offense down too early.
He learned not to take his foot off the gas.
That team is scary.

packeraaron's picture

Kelly didn't shut anything down. And as one NFL player texted me last night "Fun scheme - until Vick gets hurt."

They will be fun to watch, no doubt.

Taco's picture

60? Wait, would that make Vick better than Kaepernick? Hyperbolic worlds are colliding!

hayward4president's picture

You are so annoying....you ruin this site.

A Dude's picture

You are a hoot. There should be a "Cow Award" given to the best troll of the year. All in honor of the GOAT, Cow42.

Spiderpack's picture

Cow, please continue. I love the mix you put into this site. I read the site after every game. You are the best son-of-a-bitch that can be imagined. Aaron, please don't expel Cow like it seemed like you said you would do on Packer Transplants. You stimulate so much feeling & positive thought from the true fans on this website.

VApackerfan's picture

"You stimulate so much feeling & positive thought from the true fans on this website."

Get a room

pacman's picture

Interesting spin on 'establishing the run game' -
http://www.rrstar.com/blogs/matttrowbridge/x1367239446/Why-the-Green-Bay...

showpan's picture

it wasn't the last 8 min that killed us...lol...it was the 2 turnovers. Take those away and the Pack wins. The one by Lacy is excusable for a rookie. Welcome to the NFL son...lol....the one by Finley was embarrassing. Even still, the Pack did an awesome job with 2 DB's out trying to cover a veteran receiver. The run game was shut down against 3 great runners and Bahk did an awesome job. The division is ours!!!

Zach Kruse's picture

Confused on how the two turnovers lost the Packers the game. Green Bay was up 28-24 in the fourth quarter, well after the two turnovers. The 49ers dominated the final eight minutes and won the game.

Evan's picture

The argument is that without those 2 turnovers, the Packers could have conceivably been up more than just 4 in the 4th.

I honestly don't remember if those turnovers led to 49er points. I'm pretty sure the Lacy fumble did. The INT maybe not...? Regardless, the team that turns the ball over more usually loses - that's not a mystery. Without those two turnovers - those 2 wasted possessions/extra possessions for the 49ers - the Packers very likely win.

Evan's picture

The fumble led to a TD. The INT led to the missed FG.

Of course no one can definitively say without that fumble the 49ers wouldn't have scored that TD anyway some other way, but when you lose by 6, those 7 points off a turnover loom very large.

Zach Kruse's picture

I understand the turnover argument, but I think you can play 100 different "what-if" scenarios about two plays that happened in the first half. The reality of the situation was that the Packers took a lead in the fourth quarter but were outclassed for the final eight minutes and lost. Maybe that isn't looking at the whole picture. But I don't think any other segment of the game was as important in deciding a winner as the final eight minutes.

Erdie's picture

Well to spell it out, if those two drives end in just a field goal each time, it becomes a very different game. Not saying those drives were guaranteed points, but they gave SF some momentum in a close game and could have affected the play calling/play later on

packsmack25's picture

Well, when the Packers defense spends an astronomical amount of time on the field in the first half due to turnovers, they are probably going to be gassed in the final 8 minutes. Pretty simple.

Spiderpack's picture

Yes. +1

Spiderpack's picture

Agreed Packsmack. The 9ers "put us down" during the last 8 mins. It was clear who was the better team in the context of McCarthy's gameplan. I hope they don't try that shit again. The no-huddle to this extent is idiotic. HOW COULD MCCARTHY AND EVERYONE INVOLVED NOT SEE THIS COMING??

Charlie M's picture

Spider, if you hate the no-huddle I'm afraid you're in for a very frustrating season. The offense is going to try to run as many plays as possible. There are 2 ways to wear down a defense:tempo and superior time of possesion. We saw both of those on Sunday. Make no mistake, the 9ers D was gassed in the 4th, hence the running game finally coming to life. It became clear to me that the reason we kept all those DL is because we're gonna try to run 90 plays, time of possesion be damned.

fish and crane's picture

Gassed because of taking too many punches in the early rounds. Time of possession is what left the Packers with a defense on empty. Five three and outs really hurt. - And that first quarter miss of Lacy in the flat...oh, what a difference it all could have been... Washington is in for a bruising...

P.S. Kuhn was so wide open on that Hail Mary...

Archie's picture

DEFINITELY AGREE WITH YOUR HYPOTHESIS RE: FINAL 8 MINS OF THE GAME. We had the lead and the momentum. We lost both plus the game.

You can argue that our situation would have been even better at the 8 min mark had we not had the 2 TOs and maybe we withstand our collapse at the end.

Had MM gone for it on 4th down, we might have got it and prevailed. Lots of what-ifs.

We will not win many games with those two safeties on the field, the rookie Micah Hyde, and the two ILB who are incapable of making an impact play. That's the short and long of it. We need more defensive help and I'm not talking undrafted FAs or 4th round picks that should have been undrafted free agents.

lebowski's picture

I was finally getting past the crappy loss to the d-bag niners, read this, and am pissed all over again. Damn you Zach!

Bearmeat's picture

Bottom line: GB didn't play even close to a clean game and they STILL almost won.

If we get a rematch I'm VERY confident that game will end the 9ers season.

Spiderpack's picture

Me too.

Clay's picture

Just a little note for Cow and fellow trolls...San Fran "hung" 31 points on the Super Bowl Champion Ravens. By my calculations considering the refs gave San Fran four points last Sunday, that means our defense perfomed better against San Fran than the team that won the Superbowl. Or if you prefer we have up three points less than the Ravens against them. Point being...not as much as you think separates these teams. Pack can hang with any team in the NFL. YES much needs improving. This is not homerism...

Fi crane's picture

These words should not be in clay but in stone

Clay's picture

Thanks Crane...It shall thus be written in stone. I do like sharing my first name with a certain other Clay though;)

Cow42's picture

I remember celebrating actual victories over good teams.
Now we celebrate "hanging with them".

1-3 in their last 4 games played.

Horse's picture

COW, go play Madden where you can control some variables and there aren't so many of them. You can scream at the console and it won't bite back.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

ok. this is not a defense of cow's eeyorism, but i think a little perspective is in order.

WINNING IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS.

it is the only useful tool in deciding what 'separates' teams from one another. that's why they keep track.

if the 9'ers had extra month of preparation for this game, i'd accept consoling ourselves that we're 'almost there' - but they didn't.

the pack didn't crap the bed. but this was NOT a success. i won't resort to cowish doomsday mumblings, but i will also not resort to the type of excuses that fans resort to when their team hasn't won anything in decades and they just need something positive to hold on to. optimistic with standards.

packeraaron's picture

I missed you Josh.

Evan's picture

No doubt, Josh - I don't think anyone would dispute that winning is all that matters. And I don't see anyone "celebrating" the 49ers loss.

What I do see most people doing is looking at the game with some perspective. Being encouraged by the good things that happened (leading late, shutting down the run, moving the ball against a top defense) and hoping the bad things can be fixed (stupid penalties, turnovers, getting Burnett and Hayward back to bolster the pass defense, etc...). That's my take, at least.

My major takeaway from that game is the Packers are a very good team that can beat anyone.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

i get your point, and actually, i'm playing a little bit of devil's advocate here, because i am more optimistic about this season than many have seemed to be -- i think we'll struggle quite a bit, but barring an obscene number of injuries, i think we'll go deep.

that being said...

i can only half agree with your statement that 'the packers are a very good team that can beat anyone.'

they are a very good team.

they can't beat the 49ers.

would they have with burnett and hayward? maybe. the 49ers had injuries too.

i don't think 'all things being equal' means everyone's healthy and our guys play their best possible game. i think all things being equal is that the opportunities are the same - and they were. and we lost.

losing by 6 to a very good team doesn't mean we'll go a cowish 6-10 this year. this defense will develop and our pass rush will improve the secondary play - but the 49ers still present a problem to Capers.

again, i'm actually more in your camp than it seems - i just don't want people to start turning the corner to 'gosh this team'd be great if everything just went their way all at the same time whenever they had a tough team in front of them.'

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

let me clarify - " this defense will develop and our pass rush will improve the secondary play" - i know the pass rush was non-exisent, but some of that was 'on purpose' in that Capers didn't bring the kitchen sink roaring into the backfield. some would say he should have. some would say it would've been a lot worse if he had.

i'd say it's a slight tweak in strategy and some development from Jones and Perry and Neal at a new position away from being much less of a problem. that's maybe a bit dreamy of me, but i think a relatively reasonable expectation.

Evan's picture

"they can’t beat the 49ers."

I don't agree.

Would it take a perfect game (meaning, among other things, no turnovers). Yes. Would it take a couple breaks going their way (takeaways, a favorable ref call, etc...). Probably. But I don't believe any team is unbeatable.

But overall I think we're very much on the same page.

MarkinMadison's picture

The drive at 5 felt like a regression in play calling. Keep mixing it up and eat some clock. Keep the D guessing. It doesnt help to revert to a pass only offense at that point in the game.

chicago hooligan's picture

Packers converted 4 of 10 third downs. I believe five of those possessions were 3-and-outs. Even if turnovers were equal that would have been tough to overcome.

jake (State Farm)'s picture

Hey, simple formala: When your opponent is down and needs to pass to catch up, you blizt baby blizt. No shocker. Rogers got blizted and couldn't pull the trigger.
Again, there was no screen passes to stop the blitz and take what the defense was giving. Just the same boring drop back and look downfield crap that works most of the game but not when your behind, clock ticking and your getting blizted.

C's picture

Can you reference blitz percentage numbers anywhere? San Francisco rushed only 4 almost the entire game and dropped 7 from what I saw. San Francisco played so much dime Willis barely saw the field. Looked like identical blitz percentages from memory.

C's picture

ESPN just listed the stat. San Francisco sent 5 or more guys only 6 times all game. So there's that....

Ma Linger's picture

While this game is over and its a loss, moving forward were at the same plateau as last year, nothing has changed: teams can move the ball at will against the Pack due to our lack of defensive back play.
I say if the pack had a semblance of guys who can cover, this game could have been different but Kaperdink is not a God. He is a guy making easy passes to wide open receivers all day long.
Trouble for the Pack down the road, so can Ponder and anyone else.

Tundraboy's picture

I hate to lose but in this case I was pleased they showed up to play. As expected we are not good enough to make mistakes and win against the elite. All the same if do not move the ball, when we need to the most we lose time of possession and that dooms us. Why we stop what works when we are mixing it up is mind boggling. MM needs to look at his play calling objectively. Get rid of the chart and forget the set plays if that is what it is. To all the pessimists it's the first game no need to jump ship. Too many posts look like jets fans

Tundraboy's picture

Cant win if your defense is on the field all day

RC Packer Fan's picture

I think the final 8 minutes was the result of the 17 minute difference in time of possession. Defense wore out.
Offense had way to many 3 and outs in the game.
I also thought that when the Packers took the lead, that the drive was to fast. I would have liked to have seen them take up 4-5 minutes on that drive. Give the defense some rest. It only took 2 minutes.

I don't feel they were outclassed at all. I just feel they wore out.

Tundraboy's picture

So true. Feast or famine 3 and our or fast drive, and in this game way too many 3 and outs, and as i remember all at the most critical time. The fast part in your comment reminded me of the denver superbowl. Could score at will it seems but too fast and the D pays for it, . Lacy screen and run was so good to see. Keeps the other team off balance and eats up more time. Hope we see more of that and to Cobb as well

VApackerfan's picture

The hurry up offense is effective when working, but time of possession is just as important. We learned first hand that lesson Sunday. I thought they continued using the hurry up way too much. Like many have pointed out, too many 3 and outs. Unless your offense is a well oiled machine, the hurry up not only hurts your rhythm, but time of possession, and your defenses stamina. There are too many new variables going into this game. A new O-line switch, along with a rookie LT. A rookie RB, and our starting WR's have been out the majority of camp. Once this offense gets things together, the hurry up will be much for effective.

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