Well, that’s a wrap, folks. The Green Bay Packers 2013 season is officially over.
A last-second Phil Dawson field goal put a dagger in the Packers’ bizarre, yet exciting season. After failing to even gain a first down in the first quarter, the Packers were able to rally back in the game and go ahead 17-13 with a little over ten minutes remaining in the game.
Unfortunately, Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, yet again, challenged the Packers defense with his ability to break out of the pocket and gain yards with his feet.
On a crucial third-and-eight with San Francisco’s offense near the Green Bay 45-yard line, Kaepernick dodged a Packers blitz and ran for eleven yards and the first down after the Packers broke outside containment.
The play put the Niners in field goal range and enabled them to run the clock down to just three seconds with a new set of downs.
The Niners final drive ate up the last five minutes and six seconds of the game clock and prevented the Packers from getting the ball back and having a chance to put together a game-winning scoring drive.
It was a heartbreaker, and once again, it was the dreaded San Francisco 49ers that delivered the blow.
Many will talk about Kaepernick and the frigid cold following the Packers’ playoff defeat. But in my opinion, injuries played a crucial role in the game.
I am by no way taking anything away from the 49ers and their win on the road. However, how much is too much when it comes to injuries?
After already being without their best defensive player, Clay Matthews, for the game, the Packers lost Mike Neal to a knee injury after the first series. Nick Perry played the remaining snaps at outside linebacker, but he’s been limited with a foot injury he’s been dealing with since week six of the regular season.
On top of this, top reserve OLB, Andy Mulumba, left the game with a knee injury. In fact, for a few series into the third quarter the Packers were down to only one healthy (or semi-healthy) outside linebacker, and that was Perry.
They were forced to play defensive lineman and first-round pick, Datone Jones, at outside linebacker. He actually played decent in the role, but it’s important to note, he’s only played a few snaps standing upright on defense this season. In fact, he’s only played a limited number of snaps all season.
The injury situation for the Packers looked even more dire in this game when you consider the team lost their top cover player, Sam Shields, in the first quarter, and starting left tackle, David Bakhtiari, left the game early after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter.
It only seems fitting the Packers season ended with a rash of injuries. Look back on their season. Injuries were a dominant theme.
I am not one to make excuses. The Packers could have won this game and many others in the regular season, but it is evident, that you can’t tell the story of the Packers’ 2013 season without spending a considerable amount of time addressing the amount of injuries this team has had to overcome.
Who else in the league could win games without several of their top players?
But here’s a consolation, Packers fans. This team won the division and made it into the playoffs despite all of this adversity. Just imagine how well they’ll play next season when they get healthy and re-bolster their lineup.
There is still a bright future in Green Bay. But now, we must wait another year to see this come to pass thanks to the Niners, once again.