The Green Bay Packers’ 2012 season ended just as it started, with an ugly loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The score was 45 – 31 and it was the second time in two years that the Packers’ season ended in an embarrassing defeat. Packers’ management, just like last year, now have the off season to figure out what went wrong and make the corrections, as this contest was not even close.
This game started out showing promise when Sam Shields intercepted a pass and ran it back 52 yards to the house to give the Pack a 7 – 0 lead. That was about the last mistake 49er rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick would make as he sliced and diced the hapless Packer defense for the balance of the game. Even though the Packers had only half of the offensive plays, half of the offensive yards and half of the offensive possession time that the 49ers had in the first half, the Packers trailed by only 3 points, 24 – 21, at halftime. They were still in the game.
Cheeseheads were hopeful at that point that the Packer coaching staff would have some solution to the Kaepernick onslaught, but that was not to come. Kaepernick went on to set an all-time post-season rushing record for a quarterback with 181 yards. In a particularly ugly third quarter for the Packers, I thought the Packers might counter with a “spy” on Kaepernick, but I saw no evidence of that and the yards kept compiling for the 49ers. One particularly bad play allowed Kaepernick to run a “read option” play untouched for a 56-yard touchdown which basically sealed the outcome.
Before it was over the 49ers had run up a ridiculous number of almost 600 yards. No team can win on the road with a lack of defense like that. There is lots of blame to share and plenty of the Packer players and coaches who will have to account for a defensive debacle like this. Even though the total body of work by the Packer defense improved this year over last, this game proves without a doubt that there is much improvement necessary on the defensive side before Cheeseheads can expect a return of the Lombardi trophy to Titletown.
So, Aaron Rodgers and Company weren’t enough to overcome a San Francisco team that is obviously better than the Packers this year. There are many weeks and months to come to plot a course to improve next year’s Packer performance and that will start very shortly.
I thought a telling point in this game was captured when the television camera scanned the Packer bench late in the game. The camera panned two valiant Packer warriors, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, sitting side by side saying nothing and with blank looks on their faces. Both of these players likely won’t play for the Packers next year due to Driver’s age and Jennings’ contract. Rodgers came over and shook both of their hands but there was hardly any facial expression. Kind of a sad moment for Cheeseheads, but such is life in the NFL.
In summary, the Packers finished the 2012 season 12 – 6. Twelve wins and six losses is a respectable record, but not good enough to win a world championship. Improvements are in order for 2013. The Packers need to get much more physical on defense and this game proved how far we have to go. But, hope springs eternal in the Land of Cheese… there is always next year to look forward to.
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