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Last season’s top two National Football Conference playoff seeds, the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers, clashed to kick off their regular season at Lambeau Field on Sept. 9.
Green Bay was off to a slow start offensively, much of it caused by a tenacious defense from the 49ers. Towards the end of the first quarter, 49ers kicker David Akers nailed a 40-yard field goal to take the lead, forcing the Packers to punt. On their ensuing drive, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith connected with veteran wide receiver Randy Moss for a 14-yard touchdown, which brought their lead to 10-0.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers answered back on the following drive starting at their own 20 yard-line. Rodgers began to run the “no huddle shotgun” offense and slowly marched down the field. On first and 15 on the 49ers 16 yard-line Rodgers dropped back and went to connect with tight end Jermichael Finley, but was held up by 49ers safety back Dashon Goldson, which resulted in defensive pass interference. As a result, on the next play Rodgers snapped the ball quickly and zipped it right into the arms of tight end Finley to cut the lead 10-7.
The 49ers ended the half with two boots from Akers. His first field goal from 43 yards, his second field goal from 63 yards, which tied an NFL record and gave the 49ers a 16-7 lead at the half.
In the second half, the Niners capitalized once again after forcing the Packers to a three and out on their first possession. On third and four inside the Packers 5 yard-line, Smith connected with tight end Vernon Davis and brought the 49ers’ score to 23-7, while the Packers remained scoreless.
Packers wide receiver/explosive punt returner Randall Cobb found the outside hole during the fourth quarter and sprinted 75 yards into the end zone. An initial flag thrown for an illegal block in the back, however, was overruled by another official, one of many controversial and surprising calls of the game. Rodgers and wide out Jordy Nelson connected for a two-point conversion to make it one possession game.
The Niners defense came up big down in the stretch with about eight minutes left as Rodgers misread the defensive coverage, went to throw short over the middle to wide receiver Greg Jennings and was intercepted by linebacker NaVorro Bowman instead. Following the interception on their first play just outside of Green Bay’s 20 yard-line, running back Frank Gore bounced to the outside and scored to put his team up 30-15.
The Packers bounced back quickly and fiercely. Rodgers connected with James Jones to cut the deficit back to an eight-point game. The Packers defense on the following drive finally made an important stop, giving the ball back to their offensive with plenty of time. Unfortunately, last season’s MVP, Rodgers, and his Packer offense were unsuccessful and were stopped on four and 10 on the Niners 45 yard-line. Alex Smith brought his offense back onto the field, and with two consecutive kneels solidified the 30-22 victory. Smith finished the game completing 20 of 26 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
Rodgers completed 30 of 44 passes for 303 yards also for two touchdowns and one interception. The Packers will have a short rest, but will be back on the field Thursday, Sept. 13 against divisional rivals the Chicago Bears.
Image Courtesy of Green Bay Packers