There was lots of excitement at my house during yesterday’s Packers vs. Forty-Niners football play-off game! Those of you who have read my football posts may remember that my spouse is a life-long Green Bay fan, while I have cheered for San Francisco for 30 years. Last season we avoided conflict when a surprise loss by the Pack in the first round of the play-offs put an end to expectations of a GB-SF match in the second round. My Niners did beat the Packers the first week of this season, but that early in the season there is less at stake. Alex Smith was the San Francisco QB in that game. I think my spouse thought that with young Colin Kaepernick calling the shots last night, the Packers had a good chance of winning.
I must admit that I was worried about Kaepernick’s inexperience. One would think dueling with Aaron Rodgers would be intimidating. When a intercepted Kaepernick pass was returned by Green Bay for an immediate TD in the first quarter, I figured the pattern was being set for the rest of the game. I was impressed when the young SF QB, in his first NFL play-off game, kept his composure and got back on track right away.
My living room was really noisy during the first half, as the lead continued to bounce back and forth. Both teams have good defenses and they did their jobs well in this game. But the high scores clearly showed that this was a battle of outstanding offenses. The second half was substantially quieter after the 49ers scored twice. I heard groans as Kaepernick ran for a spectacular 56-yard touchdown (a career best for him) in the third quarter.
Kaepernick is known for running the ball when necessary, and sometimes that is even the plan. (In this game he rushed for 181 yards – a record for any quarterback in any NFL game.) The Packers had to be aware of this, yet whenever Kap ran they were caught by surprise.
Unfortunately only one person at my house was going to be happy with the outcome of this game. This time it happened to be me, as San Francisco prevailed, 45-31. Next week they play for the NFC title against Atlanta. After the Falcons beat the Seattle Seahawks this afternoon, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan said, “That was a wild game.” It wasn’t really apparent in the first half which was dominated by the Falcons. But the Seahawks made a tremendous comeback in the second half. And it seemed they would get the win when they scored within the last 60 seconds of the game. Maybe Seattle managed time poorly; there was enough time left for Atlanta to get the ball into field goal range. With eight seconds left, Matt Bryant became the hero by kicking the ball 49 yards through the uprights.
Next Sunday’s match-up ought to be a great game! Hopefully there won’t be any sour grapes and we’ll have two people cheering for San Francisco at my house.