Rodgers and the Packers Hit Big Plays; Top Niners 34-16

On an ugly December day at Lambeau Field, the 49ers had their shots early, but couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers from the big plays, as they fell 34-16 to fall to 4-8 on the year.

Rodgers threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns, using three completions of 48 yards or more to help the Packers (8-4) remain one game behind the Bears in the NFC North.

Greg Jennings caught a 57-yard touchdown pass among six receptions for 122 yards and two scores, while Donald Driver had four catches for 73 yards and a score, including an incredible 61-yard TD that featured several missed tackles.

“It’s the fourth quarter (of our season), and that’s the way I’ve addressed the team,” said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. “This is December football. We’re playing good football right now, but good isn’t good enough, as we know. So we want to be playing our best football.”

Troy Smith had a tough day, going just 10-of-25 passes for 194 yards with a touchdown and a pick for the 49ers, who fell two games behind St. Louis and Seattle in the NFC West.

Vernon Davis caught a 66-yard touchdown pass and finished with 126 yards on four catches in defeat. The Packers held a one-point lead at halftime and extended their advantage on the first drive of the second half.

With a 2nd-and-16 from the GB 39, Rodgers hit Driver on a throw to the right side about 25 yards downfield. Driver dodged several defenders in a spectacular run after the catch; one 49er nearly jumped on Driver’s back, but Driver ducked and waited for him to pass by, then he dragged two defenders into the end zone from about five yards away to complete the 61-yard touchdown for a 21-13 lead.

“That was one of the best plays I’ve ever been a part of,” Rodgers said. “It was incredible. Donald made one of the most amazing catch-and-runs I’ve ever seen.”

San Francisco answered with a 23-yard Jeff Reed field goal, but Rodgers threw a perfect pass in between two defenders to Jennings for a 48-yard gain to the SF 3. Three plays later, Jennings caught a one-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 28-16 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third.

“They came out slinging the ball in the second half, and that’s a credit to them,” said 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. “We have to go back and look at the film to see exactly what the heck happened.”

After a failed 49ers drive, Mason Crosby drilled a 43-yard field goal for a 15-point lead with just under 14 minutes to play in the game.

Crosby’s 24-yard make with a bit over three minutes left increased the margin to 34-16 and accounted for the final score.

Reed capped San Francisco’s opening drive with a 44-yard field goal before Crosby attempted to tie the game with a 29-yard try at the other end. Crosby, however, hit the left upright to keep the 49ers ahead.

It became 6-0 in the early moments of the second quarter when Reed hit a 26- yard field goal, though the Packers’ offense finally got going with a big play.

With seven minutes left until halftime, Green Bay faced a 3rd-and-1 from its own 43. Rodgers drew the defense offsides, affording him an opportunity to throw deep; he hit Jennings in stride down the left sideline, and Jennings raced into the end zone for a 7-6 lead.

San Francisco went three-and-out on its next series, and the Packers extended their lead. Starting from midfield, Rodgers directed a six-play drive that ended on John Kuhn’s one-yard touchdown run. On the play before, Brandon Jackson took a short screen pass 37 yards to set up the score for a 14-6 lead with just under two minutes left.

On the second play from scrimmage of the ensuing 49ers drive, Smith found Davis on a crossing pattern to the right, and Davis avoided a safety en route to his 66-yard touchdown and 14-13 halftime score.

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