- Aaron Rodgers is a nightmare to face with the game on the line. The 49ers on Monday night were his latest victim.
The injury-riddled 49ers missed a chance to seriously hobble the Packers on the road, in the near-freezing weather, but then Aaron Rodgers and a suddenly competent cast of supporting parts happened. Here’s what we learned from the 33–30 win—the second straight NFL prime-timer that came down to a last-second field goal.
1. What on earth was the San Francisco defense doing on that final drive? The Packers had no timeouts and began the final push with 1:01 to go inside the 25-yard line. A first-down incompletion fell out of the hands of Davante Adams, who, when the play broke down initially, was allowed to break toward the sideline for the ideal spot to haul in a pass and stop the clock. Between first and second down, and before the snap on second down, Richard Sherman seemed to call an audible and push cornerback Greg Mabin off Adams. The mid-stream switch led to some confusion pre-snap, with Mabin barely getting to his responsibility before Rodgers hiked the ball. Sherman stayed on Adams for third-and-15 and was flagged for an illegal contact penalty, which gave the Packers’ drive a new life (Rodgers was sacked on the play).
• A long Rodgers scramble, which was lengthy but fine since the 49ers managed to keep him in bounds. You would rather allow a quarterback with knee issues room to run than the chance to utilize his cannon arm.
• (19 seconds left): Adams, now drawing Mabin again and not Sherman, on an out route right at the first-down marker. Mabin allows Adams to get the outside leverage and coast out of bounds. Eight yards.
• (15 seconds left): Rodgers makes a back-shoulder throw to Equanimeous St. Brown down the other sideline, again allowing the receiver to step out of bounds uncontested. Mabin is in coverage here, and tried to press St. Brown off the line. He is, again, not guarding the sideline. Eighteen yards.
• (11 seconds left): Rodgers hits Adams on what looks to be a basic go-route. Mabin is in press coverage. There does not appear to be any immediate safety help over the top. Adams immediately wins the route, giving Rodgers the chance to snap and throw in a matter of 1.43 seconds.
• We know what happened next. Rodgers tried a last-second quick-fade—with Mabin again in coverage!—that sailed incomplete. Mason Crosby came on to hit the game-winner.
2. Speaking of Crosby, it was an emotional postgame. Both he and Rodgers got choked up talking about Crosby’s ability to bounce back from an absolutely horrid Week 5 performance against the Lions where he missed four field goals and an extra point. This is no small development. The Packers stuck with someone despite a sometimes-troubling trend the position can fall into after public meltdown games like this one. Crosby was 4-of-4 with a long of 51 on Monday and hit all of his extra points.
3. What an absolute disaster this could have been for the Packers. The bye week was coming up, but then a stretch of four road games in five weeks. The first two? Back-to-back travel games against the Rams and the Patriots. Credit goes to Kyle Shanahan who, offensively, utilized a combination of C.J. Beathard, Raheem Mostert and Marquise Goodwin to nearly break one of the most talented teams in football. Is Green Bay good enough to down either New England or L.A. in a span of two weeks? Heading into prep with a win doesn’t hurt.
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1. Seahawks owner Paul Allen passed away at the age of 65 on Monday. He was fighting non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
2. This does not look good for Josh Allen, who fell to the ground while getting his arm checked on the sideline.
3. Jon Gruden’s first trade of a Reggie McKenzie first-round pick went super well, so it looks like he’s giving it another go.
5. The pud who chucked a beer at Tyreek Hill after his spectacular touchdown on Sunday night has been forever banned from Gillette Stadium.
6. The Boston Globe’s legendary Spotlight team has gone all in on Aaron Hernandez. It’s well worth your time.
7. Case Keenum seems to be running out of fans in Denver.
Here is roughly nine hours in the day of a life of a bulldog puppy.