Pack49ersUFR
Pack49ersUFR

Whether or not this was indeed Aaron Rodgers’ “Last Dance” with Green Bay, the music stopped on the Packers’ season sooner than expected.

The top seed in the NFC, playing at home, getting healthier with the addition of several key players – none of it mattered as Green Bay fell flat in losing to San Francisco 13-10 on a last-second field goal in a divisional playoff game.

A lot of fingers will be pointed, deservedly, at Green Bay’s special teams.

The Packers had a field-goal attempt blocked, costing them three -- as it turned out big – points, allowed a couple of big kick returns and a punt blocked which turned into a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. To top it off, Green Bay had only 10 men on the field on the final kick by the 49ers’ Robby Gould.

But Green Bay’s offense, which was 10th in the NFL in points scored with 450 and had reached 30 points in six of its games (and 24 in the other) failed to reach the end zone after a strong opening drive and had five three-and-outs (including that block) in the final nine drives.

After that opening drive, the Packers gained just 194 yards on 44 plays. The 263 total yards for Green Bay was just the second time the Pack was held below 300 yards, that abysmal performance in the season-opening loss to New Orleans being the other.

Not exactly great bookends to the 2021 season.

San Francisco’s defense made Green Bay one-dimensional. Not just in holding down the running game (20 carries, 67 yards) but in limiting the passing game as Aaron Rodgers struggled to find anyone other than Davante Adams or Aaron Jones.

That is, when Rodgers wasn’t being pressured. San Francisco sacked Rodgers five times – three was the most Rodgers was taken down during the regular season – with six QB hits. It was the most sacks on Rodgers since his last playoff game, when Tampa Bay got him five times nearly exactly one year prior, Jan. 24, 2021 in the Bucs’ 31-26 win at Lambeau Field in the NFC championship.

It’s hard to put much blame on a defense which allowed just 212 yards, but needing one stop to force Gould into a 50+-yard try, the rush defense, which had been shaky all season, saw Deebo Samuel twist, turn and mash his way for nine yards to the 29.

A minute later, the season was over with Rodgers sitting on the bench on the sideline. The only ones left dancing were the 49ers.

Here's a recap of Saturday’s game:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

The return of Za’Darius Smith grabbed a lot of attention during the week leading up to the game. But there’s another pass rusher on the Packers who just happened to have a breakout year and announced his presence in this contest. Rashan Gary had a career-high 9.5 sacks during the regular season. He got San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo twice – both on third downs – and added three tackles for loss, including a big fourth-down stop, and three QB hits. That fifth-year option being picked seems awful likely.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME

Aaron Jones lost some playing time to A.J. Dillon during the season, but with Dillon sidelined with an injury, he was once again the man. Jones, though, did most of his damage not carrying the ball but catching it. He finished with 12 carries for 41 yards with a long of 14 – all highs for the Packers – but corralled nine receptions for 129 yards, which included a 75-yard catch and run before the half. In four previous playoff games, Jones had amassed all of 52 receiving yards. He became the first Green Bay running back with a 100-yard receiving game in the postseason since Dorsey Levens, who had 117 vs. Carolina on Jan. 12, 1997. Only one other Green Bay back had as many receptions in a playoff game – Edgar Bennett, who also had nine at Dallas on Jan. 16, 1994. That was also a divisional game which the Packers lost.

THAT MOMENT

There were plays here and there which stood out, but the obvious big momentum shift was the when Corey Bojorquez got his punt blocked, which San Francisco recovered for a touchdown. It was the culmination of a disastrous game, check that season, for Green Bay’s not-so-special teams. One thing which hadn’t occurred this season before Saturday? Yup, a blocked punt. It was the first time that happened to Green Bay in a playoff game since 2003, when Josh Bidwell also had one blocked for a touchdown in a 27-7 loss to Atlanta. Don’t forget what set up the block though – Rodgers missed Davante Adams along the sideline then was sacked for 11 yards, pinning the Packers – and Bojorquez – back at the 12.

THIS NUMBER

We referenced this above, but Rodgers attempted 29 passes against San Francisco. Of those, 21 were thrown to Davante Adams (11) or Aaron Jones (10). No one else on the team was targeted more than twice and only Dominique Dafney, with two, had more than one (and he had no catches). Besides Jones and Adams, only Allen Lazard and Marcedes Lewis caught a pass. Lazard gained six yards. Lewis gained no yards before fumbling (his first lost fumble since 2013).

THEY SAID IT

"You could argue that was the difference in the game. But I think it was more than just that play. ... We had two blocks in this game and obviously, it played a big part in us coming up short." -- head coach Matt LaFleur on the blocked punt.

"We had plenty of opportunities to kind of put that game away. I thought our defense battled their ass off; I thought they competed at the highest level. We had a ton of special-teams miscues. It's extremely disappointing. I don't know. I don't have a lot more than that to say." -- LaFleur

"Ten points is obviously not enough. The defense, man, played outstanding. Special teams obviously hurt us, taking points off the board and giving them points. But offensively, scoring 10 points, never good enough. ... I definitely take my fair share of blame tonight." -- quarterback Aaron Rodgers

"I think Aaron did everything he could. He was under a lot of duress. I think it's more to do with I didn't put our guys in position to make enough plays. I take that very personally." -- LaFleur

"I did not think we’d be talking about this after this game, but I’m going to take some time and have conversations with the folks around here and then take some time away and make a decision obviously before free agency or anything kind of gets going on that front." -- Rodgers regarding his future

"Right now, this stings because I feel like we had the team to win it all, and I felt like that the last couple of years. It hurts when you know you can win, it hurts when you know it's one of two plays that lost you the game. It hurts a little bit more than that, than maybe just going out there and getting blown out and just being overmatched or something like that. But when you lose games because of mistakes you made or when you feel like you should've won, that stings." -- safety Adrian Amos

"I just didn't envision it like this." -- running back Aaron Jones

WHAT'S NEXT

Buckle up, the offseason is here sooner than expected. Green Bay has some salary-cap issues – the Packers are projected to be over $40 million over the 2022 cap. Rodgers accounts for over $46 million – if he’s on the roster. Oh, and Adams is going to be a free agent. Will the Packers put the franchise tag on him? Who will they have to cut and how depleted will that make the roster if they do that?

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