GREEN BAY, Wis. – Nineteen last hits for Equanimous St. Brown’s 19-yard catch on the Packers’ game-winning drive in the 33-30 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.
1. As long as Aaron Rodgers is wearing No. 12 for the Green Bay Packers, they’ll have a chance.
2. In a game where the Packers struggled at times, failing to convert a third down until midway through the second half, and settling for field goals far too often against the NFL’s 28th ranked defense, it just didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because Rodgers had some last-minute magic, as he always seems to.
3. This game easily could’ve been a loss for the Packers. They trailed San Francisco 30-23 with under five minutes remaining as the Niners had the ball. The defense stepped up and got the ball back to Rodgers and the rest of Green Bay’s offense, and from there it seemed as if everyone in the stadium knew how this one was going to end.
4. Rodgers spread the ball around plenty in the victory, too. Three different members of the Packers, Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, all finished with more than 100 yards receiving. Adams also had a pair of scores, his second being the one that tied the game up at 30 with just 1:55 remaining.
5. From there, Green Bay’s defense was put in a tough situation as San Francisco was able to start the next possession at its own 47-yard line thanks to a kick return to the 32-yard line paired with a 15-yard personal foul penalty against defensive back Tony Brown – his second in two weeks – for a late hit out of bounds.
6. After the 49ers entered Green Bay territory they faced a third and three from the Packers’ 46-yard line. It was then that defensive back Kevin King picked a great time to make his first career interception. C.J. Beathard’s pass fell into his arms at Green Bay’s 10-yard line.
7. Ninety yards to the goal line, tie game, no timeouts for Rodgers, and no doubt of what was going to happen.
8. On the first play the Packers handed the ball off to Ty Montgomery as he rushed for 14 yards and most importantly got out of bounds. Rodgers then followed that up with a pair of incomplete passes to bring up a third and 15 from the 19-yard line. On that play he was sacked, but the Packers were bailed out by an illegal contact penalty against San Francisco defensive back Richard Sherman that brought forth a new set of downs.
9. After new life was given to the Green Bay offense, it was nearly perfect. Rodgers ran for 21 yards on the first play, spiked the ball to stop the clock, then found Adams for eight yards on Green Bay’s sideline.
10. The Packers were facing third and two with 19 seconds remaining with a few yards to pick up before entering range of kicker Mason Crosby (more on him later).
11. It was at that point Rodgers turned to a player that few expected to come up big in this situation, Equanimeous St. Brown.
12. St. Brown made the most important catch of his young career for a 19-yard gain that gave the Packers not only the first down, but pushed them into comfortable range for Crosby.
13. To make things better for St. Brown, he was doing interviews in the locker room following the game – normally not a guy that would be sought after by the media – to talk about his catch and recent development. Furthermore, he was answering some questions in German. The Notre Dame product may be one of the more interesting players in Green Bay’s locker room, considering his father, John, is a former Mr. Universe, he speaks French in addition to English and German, and he holds dual citizenship between American and Germany.
14. After the worst week of his career against the Lions the Sunday prior, Crosby had one of his better days against the Niners. He finished 4-for-4 on field goals, including the game-winner from 27 yards away. Crosby also knocked through all three extra points in the win, the last of which he said was his most nerve-wracking kick of the night.
15. The organization stuck by the veteran kicker after he was 1-for-5 in Detroit in the loss to the Lions, and that’s not something they needed to do. Kickers change places in this league more often than almost any other position. It feels as if each and every Tuesday some organizations have a group of kickers in for a try-out. The Packers opted not to do that, even though the performance Crosby put forth in Detroit would have gotten most kickers in the NFL cut.
16. On Monday night it was easy to see that keeping Crosby was the right decision.
17. This game may not have fallen into “must-win” territory for the Packers, but it’s a great one to have. Sure, Green Bay was expected to win this game, and win it by more than just a field goal, but finding a way to claim the victory was big heading into the bye week.
18. After the bye week things will get more difficult than just the San Francisco 49ers without their star quarterback and unimpressive defense. Green Bay will have to travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams and New England for a showdown with the Patriots in the two weeks immediately following the off week. Then 4-2 Miami comes to town before a trip to the Seahawks and Vikings follows.
19. So, yeah, things are going to get tough in terms of who the Packers play moving forward. There’s no doubt that they’re in a better position with a win on Monday night than they would have been with a loss.