(WLAX/WEUX) – It was vintage Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
They again showed why they’re the top aerial threat in the National Football League, connecting for two clutch receptions of 25 and 17 yards on the final drive to set up Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal as the game clock struck zero at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco last night.
Packers 30, 49ers 28.
Crosby’s teammates engulfed him on the field and celebrated this signature victory, which vaulted 2-1 Green Bay into first place in the NFC North. What a plane ride back to Wisconsin it must have been.
One that Rodgers was definitely looking forward to, alluding to the celebratory charter flight home in a post-game interview with Michelle Tafoya.
“It’s such a growth moment for us,” Rodgers said of the victory over the team he rooted for as a youngster growing up in California. “Now we are on our way. . . now we know how to win.”
With the expectations for this Packers team sky high in 2021, Green Bay could ill-afford to lose to NFC rival San Francisco and absorb a second loss so early in the season. Especially after jumping out to a surprising 17-0 lead in the second quarter.
The value of Rodgers and Adams to the Packers transcends statistics: 23 of 33, 261 yards, 2 TDs, no INTs, and a 113.3 QB rating for Rodgers and 12 catches, 132 yards, and one TD for Adams.
While they took advantage of a banged-up 49ers’ secondary all night, including several perfect back-shoulder throws, they saved their best for last.
Rodgers worked his trademark magic and accuracy in the game’s final 37 seconds after the 49ers had taken their only lead of the contest. Adams displayed his toughness and resiliency, returning to the field after a brutal hit in the fourth-quarter to find nooks in the 49ers defense on the decisive drive that covered 42 yards in five plays.
And then Crosby did what he does.
The 15-year veteran delivered in the clutch again, blasting a 51-yard field goal through the Levi’s Stadium uprights as time expired to set off a wild celebration by his teammates. It was the second field goal of the quarter for Crosby, who totaled 12 points in the game.
The 37-year-old kicker also made a touchdown-saving tackle on a 49ers kickoff return.
Coordinator Joe Barry’s much-maligned Green Bay defensive unit showed improvement with a solid showing, benefitting from the offense’s fast start.
The Packers limited San Francisco to 67 rushing yards, registered four sacks, and created two turnovers—including a key interception by Jaire Alexander in the first half and a forced fumble in the second half.
Nose tackle Kenny Clark was a huge interior key in limiting the injury-ravaged 49ers ground game and linebacker Preston Smith had three quarterback hits, one forcing an incompletion on a key third-down attempt in the third quarter, four total tackles, and a sack.
A patch-work Green Bay offensive line held up well against Nick Bosa and the 49ers front four, protecting Rodgers and opening holes for Aaron Jones to rush 19 times for 82 yards and a 3-yard touchdown.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (25 of 40, 257 yards, 2 TDs) brought San Francisco back from a 17-7 halftime deficit to a 28-27 lead with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Juszczyk with 37 seconds to play. Surprisingly, the 49ers displayed poor clock management on the drive, not milking the play clock down on a couple plays.
And Rodgers made them pay, needing only 34 seconds and two chunk passes to Adams to set up Crosby’s heroics.
Green Bay hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers at 3:25 p.m. Sunday at Lambeau Field.