Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Packers 30, San Francisco 19. After watching the Packers blown out vs. New England and NY Jets, plus QB Matt Hasselbeck tear apart the pass defense during the second half at Seattle, it was great that the Packers prove they can still win in the NFL. Despite RB Frank Gore's fantastic season, QB Alex Smith is still a work in progress and their offense isn't very good. Both defenses were similar; average run defenses with awful pass defenses. Neither team was able to cover kick returns. K Dave Rayner is one of the Packers leading special teams tacklers over the last few games.

First Quarter: Gore opens the game with a big run right at DE KGB. There was some talk of him getting benched because DT Corey Williams was practicing at end this week, but that was only because DE Mike Montgomery didn't practice last week. KGB fought off the block, but then missed the tackle. Tackling hasn't been the biggest problem for the Packers defense this season, but this was probably their worst tackling game of the season. The offense managed to fight right back and San Francisco proved that not only the Packers can leave wide receivers wide open in the end zone and it was good for WR Ruvell Martin's first career TD. Turnovers killed San Francisco in this game; Gore had a great game but he fumbled at San Francisco's 5 yard line and set up an easy field goal.

Second Quarter: The offense continues to hum along. Maybe it helps that QB Brett Favre's elbow injury is better. Maybe it helps that Martin and TE Donald Lee (who was essentially playing wide receiver) played more in this game to open up holes in the zone for WRs Donald Driver and Greg Jennings down the field. In Mike McCarthy's offense, the wide receivers are the receivers that have to produce in the passing game, while the tight end and backs are dump off options. San Francisco can't sustain drives because Smith is 2-for-6 passing on 3rd or 4th down; 3 drives during the half ended in Packer territory, but only led to 6 points. CB Charles Woodson played a great game, especially considering he is playing with sore ribs that forced him to leave for the locker room early. He returned in the second half and had a great 40 yard punt return in the 4th quarter.

Third Quarter: The Packers secondary played their best game of the season, except CB Al Harris. Harris didn't play awful, but he gave up a big pass play to WR Antonio Bryant and gave up the most yards he had allowed in several games. Smith finally found TE Vernon Davis in the second half and exploited the Packers weak coverage against tight ends and backs. Smith completed 4 passes to Davis and three different running backs that led to their first TD. The offense had two 3-and-out drives and San Francisco had some momentum until Smith's first INT killed it. Great diving play by FS Nick Collins. Almost immediately Favre hits Driver on a slant route, Driver breaks a tackle, and runs for a TD. On the play, Lee went in motion and played outside, allowing Driver to work out of the slot, where he has been killing teams this season.

Fourth Quarter: After Smith's first INT, San Francisco's offense slumped. Two 3-and-outs, the second drive scuttled by a holding call that brought back a big gain to Davis, while the Packers pad their lead with two field goals. A big return and another big catch by Davis start a good San Francisco drive, before it is killed by an awful interception by Smith in the end zone to LB A.J. Hawk. San Francisco had three turnovers that killed them; they all either led to Packer points or stopped drives in Packer territory. Smith quickly recovers and throws a big TD pass to Davis. If his one reception hadn't been called back on a penalty, Davis would have had over 100 yards receiving in the 2nd half against the Packers. But that was the last from Smith and Davis, because the Packers execute a perfect 5 minute drive to end the game.

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