The San Francisco 49ers used a solid run game and stingy defense, a timely interception and got just enough production from QB Alex Smith to defeat the Green Bay Packers 30-22 at Lambeau Field Sunday.
The start of the 2012 season didn’t go as many thought for the Packers who came out trying to mix the run and pass, but got nearly zero production from newly-acquired running back Cedric Benson.
In fact, the Packers had to punt six of their first seven possessions while the 49ers used a solid run game and a short passing game to control the clock.
“We played a very good football team today,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said at his post-game press conference. “We did some things that we can build on.”
David Akers connected on three field goals in the first half, including a 63-yarder at the end of the second quarter that bounced high off the crossbar and over to tie the National Football League record. The 49ers first field goal came after a 58-yard drive on nine plays.
Akers connected from 40 yards. Randy Moss caught a 14-yard pass from Smith at the 11:10 mark of the second quarter to give the 49ers a 10-0 lead. However, the Packers came right back on a 10-play 80-yard drive that was capped by a 1 yard touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley.
The Packers were awarded the ball at the one yard line after the Niners were flagged for a pass interference call in the end zone. However, with a strange end to the second quarter the Niners capped a 10-play 55-yard drive with another Akers field goal from 43 yards out to give the Niners a 13-7 lead.
The Packers quickly went three and out and had to punt the ball inside 20 seconds. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was not happy with how that last stalled drive allowed the Niners to get the ball back. He took the blame for the Niners final field goal of the first half when he didn’t stay in bounds on the third down play to allow the clock to run down.
The 49ers capitalized by moving the ball a bit over 20 yards to set up Akers’ 63-yarder to up their halftime lead to 16-7. When the Niners stopped the Packers on their opening drive of the second half, they took control of the game by driving the ball 84 yards and finishing it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis to give them a 23-7 lead.
Lambeau Field fell silent, but the Packers weren’t done, despite their poor overall play up to that point. The bright spot for the Packers throughout the afternoon was second year receiver Randall Cobb. In addition to his team-leading nine receptions for 77 yards, Cobb also took a fourth quarter punt and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown to cut the Niners lead to 23-15 after Jordy Nelson caught a two-point conversion from Rodgers.
When the Packers defense held midway through the fourth quarter, Rodgers did what he hasn’t done much the past few years – he threw an interception. On the first play of the drive, Rodgers attempted a quick hitter over the middle but was picked off by Niners linebacker Nick Bowman.
One play later Niners running back Frank Gore was in the end zone from 23 yards out to give San Francisco a seemingly insurmountable 30-15 lead.
Rodgers then led the Packers on a five-play, 76-yard drive that was highlighted by James Jones’ 10-yard touchdown catch. After the Packers stopped the Niners on downs inside of three minutes, they got the ball back, moved out to near midfield, but the Niners stopped Rodgers and the Packers on downs.
“We’re 0-1. We’re going to see it again Thursday (when the Chicago Bears come to Lambeau Field for a North Division showdown).
“This is one game and we lost to the team that was in the NFC Championship last year. We hope we see them down the road in the playoffs,” Rodger said.
But to start thinking about the post-season, Rodgers also admitted that the Packers have to get by this loss and move on. “We’ve got another home game Thursday and we gotta play better,” he said.
Statistics from the game, courtesy of si.com are as follows:
- Scoring Summary
San Francisco 3-0
San Francisco 10-0
San Francisco 10-7
San Francisco 13-7
San Francisco 16-7
San Francisco 23-7
San Francisco 23-15
San Francisco 30-15
San Francisco 30-22