Hopefully we’ve let enough time pass to take a look at this game again. The embarrassing effort by the defense shouldn’t overshadow some of the positive things that happened on offense. Though even they let mistakes get in their way at the most inopportune times…
It’s the second half of the Divisional Round game, and both teams have started the third quarter with a three-and-out drive each. The Packers are trailing the 49ers by a field goal (21-24) and are looking to gain back the momentum they lost in the first half. They start their drive at their own 11-yard line after Randall Cobb fails to advance the punt.
Mike McCarthy calls his first drive of the game sans DuJuan Harris. Looking to get something going, he puts his five best receivers on the field for Aaron Rodgers to work with: Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley. They drive down the field in a no-huddle offense, gaining 76 yards and eating up only 3 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock. Their efforts stall in 49ers territory, however, and the Packers are forced to attempt a field goal. Crosby ties the game at 24-24.
Play 1: Rodgers to Jennings for 2 yards
Despite being on their own 11-yard line, the Packers show their hand immediately on this first play. McCarthy has Rodgers alone in the backfield with his five receivers taking off at the snap. They run some short-route concepts here with Cobb an option for a bubble screen. San Francisco is content to keep things in front of them, running (mostly) a zone scheme. Safety Dashon Goldson has his sights set on Cobb, though, forcing Rodgers to hit Jennings on the out route to his right.
If nothing else, this play gets the engine primed for the upcoming drive.
Play 2: Rodgers to Jennings for 30 yards
Give Rodgers a nice clean pocket with time to spare and he’ll make these plays just about every time. Cobb starts out in the backfield, but motions to the left slot. On the right side, Jennings runs a deep fly route to stretch the defense. With the corner playing inside leverage and the safety running deep, Rodgers is able to connect with Jennings on the back shoulder throw. The safety is in position to make the immediate tackle, but it’s not enough to stop a 30-yard gain that really gets the offense’s motor going.