49ers beat Packers on final play
GREEN BAY, Wis.—Under pressure in sub-zero weather, Colin Kaepernick kept his cool.
Facing a blitz on third-and-eight, the elusive San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback scrambled 11 yards out of trouble to set up Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal as time expired for a 23-20 win yesterday over the Green Bay Packers in an NFC wild-card game.
“Didn’t think we were going to pull it out, did you?” said coach Jim Harbaugh.
When it’s Kaepernick and the 49ers facing the Packers, the game is never over. Even in the meat locker that was Lambeau Field, where the temperature at kick-off was five degrees F, with a wind chill of 10 below zero.
No sweat for Kaepernick. He went sleeveless—and didn’t wear gloves.
“I’ve played in cold-weather games before,” he noted. “I feel like it’s more mental than anything.”
San Francisco now plays at Carolina this coming Sunday in the divisional round.
Kaepernick threw for 227 yards, including a 28-yard TD pass to Vernon Davis, and ran for another 98 while Michael Crabtree had eight catches for 125 yards for San Francisco.
In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, the 49ers (13-4) threw the final punch. Kaepernick escaped a blitz to get to the 27 with 1:13 left.
“Just trying to figure out a way to get that first down,” Kaepernick remarked. “Had a play called, we didn’t get the look that we wanted.
“It worked out for us.”
Dawson nailed the winning kick five plays later—but only after nearly being blocked by edge rusher Davon House.
He was whistled for being offside on the play but the 49ers declined the penalty with the win in hand.
Mason Crosby’s 24-yard field goal had tied it at 20-20 for the Packers (8-8-1) with 5:06 left before the 49ers’ final drive.
Until then, Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers did his best to turn into “Captain Comeback” again. After a slow first quarter, Rodgers finished 17-of-26 for 177 yards and a touchdown.
“Very disappointing, personally,” Rodgers said. “It’s frustrating not to play your best game in tough conditions.
“Defence holds them to 23 points. We should win that game,” he stressed.
Kaepernick connected with a spinning Davis down the seam for a score with 10:39 left. The TD quickly answered John Kuhn’s one-yard run that briefly gave the Packers a four-point lead.
But it was Kaepernick who was the difference-maker once again in San Francisco’s fourth straight win over Green Bay. He finished 16 of 30 with the touchdown and an interception.
The other NFC divisional game will see Seattle host New Orleans, who edged Philadelphia 26-24 with a field goal on the final play Saturday night in their wild-card showdown.
Over in the AFC, San Diego beat Cincinnati 27-10 yesterday to advance to face Denver while Indianapolis rallied from a 38-10 third-quarter deficit to stun the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 on Saturday to advance against New England.