A lead with 37 seconds left on the clock should be safe against most quarterbacks.
Aaron Rodgers is not most quarterbacks. He’s a future Hall of Famer, so that was plenty of time for him to lead what became the 26th game-winning drive of his illustrious career as the Packers stunned the 49ers on “Sunday Night Football.”
Rodgers took his team down the field in just two completions to set up his longtime teammate, Mason Crosby, for a game-winning field goal attempt. Crosby delivered with a 51-yarder to give Green Bay a 30-28 win against San Francisco, ensured the plane ride back to Wisconsin will be a happy one.
How did Rodgers lead this comeback? Sporting News breaks it down.
Rodgers completes a 25-yard pass to Davante Adams
It started as soon as 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk crossed the goal line with a game-tying touchdown. The PAT put the 49ers up 28-27 with 37 seconds to play, and then they kicked the ball away.
Rodgers and the Packers took over at their 25 on the ensuing touchback. It took him just one play to get them to midfield.
Randall Cobb lined up in the slot and ran a corner route, dragging the safety just a few steps to his left in the open field to clear space for Adams on a deep post route. Adams caught the ball over a leaping defender right on the 49ers helmet logo at midfield. He sprinted as far as he could to the left to get out of bounds, but he was brought down inbounds with 28 seconds left.
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“Throw it to [Adams],” Rodgers told NBC’s Michele Tafoya after the game. “That’s my first thought. [Coach] Matt [LaFleur] actually suggested that play on the sideline, that first play, which was something we actually worked on Friday at practice, kind of scribbled in the dirt, and it worked out perfect.”
Rodgers sprinted up the field and was able to spike the ball with 20 seconds remaining.
He attempted another pass to Adams, but it fell incomplete.
Rodgers completes a 17-yard pass to Adams
Now facing a third-and-10 from the 50, Rodgers again looked the way of his favorite target.
It took him just over two seconds to fire a pass to Adams, who ran a curl route on the left side of the field. He leapt into the air to bring down the pass and was immediately tagged down with 12 seconds on the clock. The Packers were forced to rush up to the line and spike the ball again.
Rodgers stopped the clock with three seconds remaining, trusting Crosby to handle the rest.
The veteran quarterback didn’t even have to see Crosby line up to know how the game was going to end. He pumped his fist as soon as the whistle was blown with digits still on the clock.
“He’s going to make it,” Rodgers told Tafoya. “That’s what he’s done his entire career. He’s made a bunch of big kicks for us. I love him to death. We’ve been playing together for 15 years, sit next to each other every bus ride, every plane ride. He’s an incredible guy and he’s so clutch.”
Mason Crosby kicks a 51-yard field goal
Just as Rodgers has a penchant for winning games late, so does Crosby.
According to Stathead, Crosby came into the game a perfect 16 for 16 when attempting field goals with less than a minute remaining in the game where his team won the game. He has a career-long of 58 and is 39 for 70 in his career from beyond 50 yards.
So Crosby did what he was called on to do. He drilled the kick inside the left upright to deliver the win to Green Bay.
The win was a stunner to those watching in Levi’s Stadium. After the 49ers’ late touchdown and with 20 seconds still left in the game, NextGen Stats gave San Francisco a 76 percent chance of winning. As soon as Rodgers hit Adams with the 17-yard completion to set up the field goal try, however, the odds took a drastic swing in Green Bay’s favor, with the chances of a win hinging entirely on Crosby making his kick on the road at that distance.
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