There was no storybook ending for the 2019 Green Bay Packers and their rabid fan base.
An NFC North Division title. A 13-3 record and #2 playoff seed. A victory over Seattle at Lambeau in the a Divisional Playoff.
The #1-seeded San Francisco 49ers lived up to their billing and crushed the Packers—for the second time this season—at Levi’s Stadium, 37-20, on Sunday afternoon to earn a berth in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami on February 2. The Super Bowl and a weekend of game-related programming will be broadcast exclusively in Western Wisconsin by FOX 25/48.
In 100 years of NFL football, no running back had a playoff performance like the 49ers’ Raheem Mostert against an outmatched Green Bay defense, rushing for a league-record 220 yards. He averaged an astonishing 7.6-yards per carry and scored four touchdowns.
The Packers defense simply had no answer for Mostert, a running back cut by seven NFL teams in his career, who is thriving in San Francisco and head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. “I did have a lot of doubters and naysayers,” he said. “Now I get to actually tell them, ‘Look where I’m at now.’”
Behind a dominant offensive line, Mostert slashed through Green Bay defenders for an astonishing 7.6-yard average and four touchdowns (36, 9, 18, and 22 yards). His effectiveness allowed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to attempt just eight passes as the 49ers built an insurmountable 27-0 cushion by halftime.
Meanwhile, the 49ers defense was shutting down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
The stellar unit held Green Bay to 93 total yards in the first half and created two turnovers, which their offense turned into 10 points. While the 49ers were running the ball down the Packers’ throats, Aaron Rodgers was forced to throw to mount a second-half comebackers.
Green Bay cut the margin to 34-20 on Rodgers’ 9-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Jones in third quarter, Jones’ 1-yard touchdown rush and an 8-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Richard Sherman intercepted Rodgers’ deep throw to Davante Adams on a last-gasp drive.
We just weren’t very consistent the first half,” said Rodgers, who after a rocky start rebounded to complete 31 of 39 pass attempts for 326 yards and two touchdowns. “Made a couple of mistakes personally that hurt us and kind of let it get away from us.”
Rodgers botched a snap that San Francisco recovered and had two interceptions: one in the first half that stopped a promising drive and another by Richard Sherman in the waning minutes.
Despite the 27-point halftime deficit, Green Bay never quit and battled to the end.
Davante Adams and Rodgers fueled the comeback big, with Adams catching nine for 138 yards. Jones rushed for 56 yards and caught 5 passes for 27 yards and scored two touchdowns but it was not close to enough firepower to match up with San Francisco.
“Right now, they are the gold standard in the NFC,” head coach Matt LaFleur said of the 49ers.
37-year-old Robbie Gould accounted for 13 points in San Francisco’s victory with three field goals and four extra points. The veteran kicker converted 54- and 27-yard field goals in the second quarter as the 49ers bolted out to a 20-0 lead. Gould’s 49-yarder in the fourth quarter sealed the win after Green Bay closed within two scores.
Rodgers is optimistic for the Packers future under LaFleur.
“I said it last week, the window is a open for us, and that’s the exciting thing,” Rodgers said. “Doesn’t make this feeling any easier, but that is very exciting moving forward.”