The San Francisco 49ers pulled off a thrilling 24-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night to advance to the NFC Championship game next weekend. After trailing for most of the game, the 49ers rallied in the 4th quarter behind a game-winning drive led by rookie quarterback Brock Purdy.
49ers Trailed Nearly Entire Game Before Launching Comeback
The 49ers found themselves in catch up mode for almost the entire night at Lambeau Field. The Packers set the tone early, marching right down the field on the opening drive and taking a 7-0 lead on a Jordan Love touchdown pass. Love, starting in place of injured star Aaron Rodgers, looked poised and effective early on.
The 49ers responded with a field goal on their first possession but struggled to find consistency on offense in the first half. Meanwhile, the Packers extended their lead to 14-3 just before halftime when A.J. Dillon punched in a physical 2-yard touchdown run.
|Packers 7, 49ers 0
|Packers methodical on opening drive, finished by Love TD pass
|Packers 14, 49ers 3
|Packers grind out TD drive before half
|Packers 14, 49ers 10
|49ers own lengthy drive results in TD
|Packers 21, 49ers 13
|Packers answer back with Aaron Jones TD
|49ers 24, Packers 21
|49ers orchestrate game-winning drive in final minutes
The 49ers remained stagnant on offense in the 3rd quarter until putting together their best drive of the night late in the period, grinding out an impressive 86 yards on 13 plays, capped by a Christian McCaffrey TD run. But Green Bay had an immediate response, as Aaron Jones scored on a 12-yard catch and run early in the 4th quarter to push the lead back to 8 points.
Trailing 21-13 with just over 5 minutes remaining, the 49ers faced a daunting task to keep their season alive.
Purdy Leads Game-Winning Drive, 49ers Survive Late Scare
Facing long odds late in the 4th quarter, Brock Purdy displayed wisdom beyond his years, methodically leading the 49ers down the field on a tension-filled drive. The rookie connected with McCaffrey and George Kittle for big gains that set up a game-tying TD pass to Kittle, knotting the score at 21 with just over 3 minutes left.
After the 49ers defense forced a quick 3-and-out, Purdy went back to work, finding favorite target Deebo Samuel to convert a couple of clutch 3rd downs. That set the stage for McCaffrey to collect his second TD of the game on a thrilling 9-yard catch and run with 37 seconds remaining, sending the 49ers sidelines into pandemonium.
But the game wasn’t over yet. The Packers quickly moved into SF territory, where Jordan Love faced one final chance to create more playoff magic. But his deep shot toward the end zone was picked off by 49ers safety Jimmie Ward, allowing San Francisco to escape with the 24-21 victory.
|16/23, 332 yards
|Impressive playoff debut for Jordan Love
|10 targets, 7 catches, 93 yards
|George Kittle comes up big
|153 total yards, 2 TDs
|Christian McCaffrey sparks offense
While the 49ers certainly caught some breaks, Purdy displayed veteran savvy in critical moments, spreading the ball around to his playmakers while protecting the football. After becoming the first rookie QB to win two playoff starts, he’ll look to make more history next weekend.
49ers Headed Back to NFC Title Game
By winning their 12th straight game, the scrappy 49ers have once again punched their ticket to the NFC Championship game, which will take place next Sunday, January 29th at Levi’s Stadium. There they will host the winner of Sunday’s Dallas-Philadelphia matchup.
Remarkably, this will be San Francisco’s third conference title game appearance in the last four seasons, despite undergoing significant transition at the quarterback position. After losing starter Trey Lance in Week 2, veteran Jimmy Garoppolo stepped in before breaking his foot in December, handing the reigns to rookie Brock Purdy.
But Purdy has thrived since taking over down the stretch, displaying outstanding accuracy and decision making for a first year player. Saturday night showcased his ability to handle pressure and rally his team from behind.
The 49ers will enter the NFC Championship game brimming with confidence, having won 15 of their last 16 contests dating back to the regular season. They will be favored at home against either the Cowboys or Eagles.
While another Super Bowl appearance is within reach, the 49ers can’t afford to look ahead yet. But after orchestrating consecutive thrilling playoff wins, Purdy and company are proving this team might just have the magic and moxie to hoist the Lombardi Trophy next month.
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