The 12-7 Green Bay Packers went into Candlestick Park and lost to the 12-4-1 San Francisco 49ers by the score of 45-31. The Packers also lost their composure, their swagger, and their respectability. Despite the successes of the 2012 season, the team’s campaign will be remembered for this loss more than any of their wins.
My post-loss depression is simply too deep to go into detailed analysis of how the Packers lost. I’ll let the Thumps and Chest Bumps section below cover most of that. When the Packers look at this loss they’ll see what all of us saw- they didn’t have an answer for Kaepernick and they were beaten primarily at the point of attack, on both sides of the ball, by better 49ers offensive and defensive line players. Of course there’s more to it than that. But not a whole lot more.
Here are the final weekly Thumps (plenty) and Chest Bumps (just a couple) of the season as they apply to the Packers-49ers Divisional Playoff for you:
Chest Bump- to Sam Shields. He started out strong with his pick six and played better than any of the other DBs in this game. Which isn’t saying much, but Playoff Sam did what he could do to help the team win this game. 37 always seems to play well in the playoffs. Too bad we can’t say the same for…
Thump- to Tramon Williams. 38 picked a lousy time to suck. I think Tramon is generally the best CB on the team, but he sure didn’t play like it against the 49ers. He was beaten in coverage way too many times and he had costly penalties that kept drives alive. He’ll need to take a long hard harsh look at his performance in this game and realize the obvious: He’s got to play more consistent ball to keep his job. Especially with some talented second-year players coming up behind him next season.
Thump- to Jeremy Ross. I like Ross as the team’s return specialist- primarily because I hate to see Cobb get rocked on returns when he’s so important to the offense. But when you muff a punt in the playoffs you’re going to be banished to the doghouse for a long time. It will take some time for his goof to fade. But I still think he’s the best option on the current roster for a return man.
Chest Bump- to Brad Jones. Jones led the team with 9 tackles and an assist. I didn’t see him blow a tackle opportunity. Like all the LBs he was occasionally flummoxed by Kaepernick, but overall I thought Jones had the best performance in an overall poor defensive outing by the Packers.
Thump- to Dom Capers. The Packers defense played poorly. Capers is the man responsible for that. He didn’t have any kind of effective approach to stopping Kaepernick. I expected to see some kind of different strategy in the second half. Instead I think Kaepernick actually had more success in the second half than in the first. In any case the Packers were still in this game until the second half. Capers’ defense simply didn’t get the job done.
Thump- to Greg Jennings. For a guy playing what could have been his final game for the Packers, Jennings sure went out without a bang. Yes, he caught six passes and his overall performance was decent enough- especially in garbage time at the end of the game. But early in the game he got into it with the 49ers defense and head butted the guy who was defending him. He’s lucky he didn’t pick up a PF penalty for that. There’s nothing good that can come from jawing with the defense 85.
Chest Bump- to James Jones. JJ had another solid outing, making tough catches and keeping drives alive. He led the team in pass yardage and talking to himself. I think of all the receivers Jones had the best year this season. The Packers receiving corps will probably be overhauled for next season. Jones has proven he belongs.
Thump- to Aaron Rodgers. Let’s be clear. Aaron Rodgers cannot win these games by himself. The expectation is that Rodgers will perform well in every game. But when the Packers defense cannot stop the other team and the Packers offense doesn’t get any opportunities to work, 12 can’t win the game himself. The best he can hope to do is not make mistakes that cost the team. Last night he made a costly mistake with the interception, the end result of which was a 49ers TD. I’m as big a Rodgers fan as anybody, but even he has to be disappointed with his performance against San Francisco.
Thump- to the officials. There were several obvious penalties that went uncalled. Shields was clearly held on one. Harris was obviously facemasked on another. When SF had a close but obviously incomplete sideline play the game was stopped for EVER so they could get the obvious call correct. I know these guys are human but they’ve got to do a better job. Playoff games are supposed to have the best officials working them. Judging by their performance, not so much last night.
Chest Bump- to Randall Cobb. Randall had a solid performance with five catches and two carries. After the Ross muff he took over all return duties and his performance was a little spotty. Cobbernicus is not superhuman. He’s just really smart (hence the nickname) and talented. He’s one of the most diverse weapons this team has. But he’s got to play more consistently if he’s going to continue returning kicks and punts. Never catch a called fair catch inside the ten yard line 18!
Thump- to Erik Walden. Walden was the poster child for confused and outplayed LBs against Kaepernick. Several times he looked like he had absolutely no clue what was going on. Now some of that was probably coaching. But coaches coach and players play. Walden didn’t do a lot of playing. He only had two tackles and three assists- primarily because it looked as if he was out of position for most of the game. The good news is that Walden’s performance in this game was what it was…one game. And in all fairness he certainly wasn’t the only defender who got faked out of his shoes by 7.
Thump- to the entire defense, including coaches. The defense did not play with a sense of urgency- especially in the second half. Even though the defensive performance in the first half wasn’t good, the team was still in the game. It turned out that between the lack of urgency and lack of a plan to stop Kaepernick, they weren’t in the game in the second half. Maybe whatever adjustments they made after halftime just didn’t work. Maybe fatigue was a factor. Whatever the reason the defense lost this game. The offense didn’t win it, but the defense lost it.
Chest Bump- to DuJuan Harris. Harris didn’t have a bunch of yards, but he ran hard and scored an important TD in the first half. The thing about Harris is he runs hard. He might not have the same talent as other backs. He might not have as much speed. But he does not go down easy and he fights for every inch he gains. I expected to see more of him in this game, but because the defense sucked the offense was in catch-up mode all night- which doesn’t bode well for RB carries.
I’ll do a Chest Bumps and Thumps column for the season this coming week on LombardiAve.com. You have been warned!
Here are some selected tweets I broadcasted during the game- last ones listed first. Scroll down to read from the beginning of the game. They frame many of the comments made above. Yes…following me on Twitter is like drinking from a fire hose. Deal with it. Wife Deneen said I should cut a few of these out of my post-game rants, so I did. You can follow these live if you follow me on Twitter. Review these the day after they were shared at your own risk:
– Thanks to everybody 4 a great season! Packers will be great next year! Look 4 some insightful analysis at http://LombardiAve.com . Go Pack!
– Well we lost the game to SF and John Dorsey to KC. One hurts now. Which hurts more long-term? Who else bails? Stay tuned 4 offseason 2013.
– Oh come on guys…no BS like this please. Just play it out. (During the last Packers drive players pushing and shoving).
– Dagger time. Niners score yet again to make it 45-24. Packers just didn’t have an answer for Kaepernick. I thought they would. They didn’t.
– Nice. Packers jump on 4th and 1 and it’s over. Rodgers can’t win the game if the defense can’t stop anything and there’s no time left! Sad. (Rodgers can’t help win the game if he’s on the sidelines).
– So close. But close doesn’t count and Packers D comes back out. Gotta get a stop or TO here guys. Nothing else will do. (Rodgers pass to Jennings just off his hands).
– Niners score again and it’s 38-24 Niners. Gotta get offense moving. Legacy building time Aaron.
– This drive is the dagger. Hate to say it. Hope I’m wrong. But it feels like it’s over unless Rodgers can somehow get untracked. (Niners drive to the eventual TD).
– Sheesh. What a time for 38 to suck. Dammut! (38 still betting beaten in coverage).
– Tramon needs to man up right now. Crabtree is eating him up! (38 still getting beaten in coverage).
– It feels like if the Pack O doesn’t match SF TD for TD they’re in trouble. Time for a big play on defense!
– So much for halftime adjustments for Kaepernick. Something has to be done. And done now. Niners up 7 again. Rodgers time again! (Whatever halftime adjustments were made weren’t working).
– Whew…Cobb didn’t fumble ‘cuz his knee was down. Crosby squeaks the FG inside the upright and we’re tied at 24. Time for a big play D!
– Cobb should have let that one go, but he probably didn’t see that defender so close. O starts in a hole.
– Nice work by 21 to force the punt. Come on offense! (Woodson delivers a pass defensed).
– So much for the offensive domination. Let’s go defense! (Offense sputters on first 2nd half possession).
– First half stats suck. It’s over. Time to dominate!
– Time for some halftime valium! Niners lead 24-21. Pack with ball first in 2nd half. Way too little dominating going on 4 Packer Nation!
– Well as long as the expert thinks it’s an incomplete pass… (The sideline hand-on-the-line incompletion that was obviously an incompletion- to everybody but the refs).
– Too bad Burnett couldn’t finish on the pick there. (42 got his hands on a pick but couldn’t finish).
– No holding call on Ginn for clutching Playoff Sam? Seriously? Refs seriously SUCK in this freaking game! (Refs miss another obvious holding call).
– Rodgers answers with a TD bullet to Jones and it’s 21-21 with enough time left 4 more! Let’s go D!
– If they had picked that flag up I would have been really mad! (The helmet-to-helmet hit by Goldson on Harris).
– Somebody get me a doctor! FCOL the near strip of 12 nearly croked me on the spot! (Rodgers is stripped but recovers the fumble).
– Looks like the Packers are destined to keep having to play catch up. 21-14 Niners after pick and another 7 TD pass. Time for O to step up!
– There was 12’s playoff mulligan. Hope it doesn’t cost points though. I would like to know what he saw though…like everybody else! (After the Rodgers INT).
– Harbaugh has such an awesome psycho angry face! Wish MM had a better one, but let’s not force him to use it!
– FWIW Ross is still my favorite option for returns. I hate seeing Cobb get rocked when he’s tackled. Ross won’t drop another punt soon. (And I still think so. The muff was one play and it didn’t cause the loss. Cobbernicus too valuable to do returns).
– 14 all after the Ross muff and a wide open Crabtree TD. Time to man up again offense!
– Dammut! Ross muffs the punt and it’s SF ball on the GB 9.
– Nice play Mr. Moses. Way to stop 7! (Moses has his one tackle of the game but it looks good).
– Tramon needs to step it up. Not looking good so far. Crabtree will eat him up if 38 let’s it happen. (Williams continues to get beaten).
– Harris with the up the gut run for the TD and it’s 14-7 Packers! Way to come back and shut the crowd down offense! Man up now D!!!
– I cringed when Rodgers threw that but Jones made that WORK! (The 44 yarder to Jones to set up the Harris TD).
– No facemask? WTF? Seriously? Come on refs! (Refs correctly call the facemask penalty then pick up the flag.)
– Packers run Harris on 3rd and one…and make it!
– Nice job Playoff Sam on the pass defensed to force the punt. Let’s go offense!
– Somebody needs to hit Moss. Legally. But really hard. (Moss gets a catch and starts jawing the DBs).
– This game is gonna get chippy quick. (Players jawing and pushing each other after plays).
– I’m already tired of Kaepernick. Playing him is like cheating. Isn’t it? (Kaepernick killed the defense).
– And we go three and out with a dropped pass and a head butt by Jennings. Inauspicious start by Packers O. Come on D! (Jennings taunts a CB and probably should have been flagged for it).
– Gotta have better contain on 7. Game now tied 7-7. Playoffs football.
– Claymaker gets to Kaepernick for his first sack of the game.
– Chuck almost got that one! (Woodson almost had a pick).
– And another BS DH call on 38. Lovely…thanks refs! (Defensive holding call on Williams was marginal at best).
– Way to go Sam 37! Woo hoo! That’s the way to start D!!!!!! 7-0 Pack!!!!!! (Playoff Sam and his early pick six).
– Here we go D!
– Settling in for Packers at Niners. Rodgers ready. Driver and Starks active. Big game. Big stage. Go Pack GO!
– No Packers on AP All Pro first team. Only 12 and 52 on second team. Nine 49ers on combined team. Thanks 4 the extra motivation tonight AP.
With regard to the Fearsome Predictions I made prior to the game, just remember this: they’re not really fearsome, nor are they really predictions! I missed almost all of them, but I’ll keep doing them.
The Green Bay Packers had a lot to be proud of this season. Their loss to the 49ers in the most important game of the season isn’t on that list. OK…so it’s over. We’ve got an offseason to process people. Who stays? Who goes? Who comes in? Who retires? Who gets plucked for jobs with other teams? We already know John Dorsey is the new GM in Kansas City. How will that affect the front office? One thing is for certain: The Packers will be back stronger than ever for the 2013 season.
I’ll continue to work the draft and put up interesting, humorous, and thought-provoking columns. They couldn’t keep me away! Go Pack GO!