Gould’s FG on final play gives 49ers 13-10 upset of Packers

Sports

San Francisco 49ers’ Fred Warner stops Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones during the first half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Robbie Gould continued his playoff perfection and moved the San Francisco 49ers one step away from their second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons with a 45-yard field goal as time expired for a 13-10 upset of Green Bay on Saturday night.

On a field littered with snow flurries, Gould’s kick knocked off the top-seeded Packers and possibly ended Aaron Rodgers’ tenure in Green Bay. Gould has made all 20 of his career playoff field-goal attempts.

“I always trust Robbie. He’s as good as gold, man,” Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “He always is.”

The 49ers (12-7) continued their postseason hex on Rodgers and advanced to an NFC championship game matchup Jan. 30 at either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-4) or Los Angeles Rams (13-5). Those teams play Sunday in Tampa.

San Francisco’s win, coupled with the Cincinnati Bengals’ 19-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans earlier in the day, marked the first time both No. 1 seeds lost in the divisional round in the same season since 2010. Green Bay won at Atlanta and the New York Jets won at New England that season.

“It’s dangerous, man. When a team gets hot, it’s dangerous,” Garoppolo added. “So we’ve just got to keep this thing going, focus on next week now, and keep this thing rolling.”

Rodgers went 19 of 25 for 221 yards and dropped to 0-4 in career playoff matchups against the 49ers. San Francisco beat the Packers 37-20 in the NFC championship game two seasons ago before losing 31-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

The Packers (13-5) earned the NFC’s top seed for a second straight season but again failed to reach the big game as the 49ers rallied by scoring 10 unanswered points in the final five minutes.

San Francisco tied the game with 4:41 left thanks to a breakdown by Green Bay’s special teams, the Packers’ biggest weakness all season.

Jordan Willis’ outstretched left hand blocked a punt by Corey Bojorquez, who was kicking from the front of his end zone. Talanoa Hufanga picked up the ball at the 6-yard line and ran it in to make it 10-10.

After the Packers went three-and-out, the 49ers got the ball back at their 29 with 3:20 left and drove into field-goal range. Deebo Samuel delivered a 9-yard run on third-and-8 from the Green Bay 38, and the 49ers ran down the clock to set up Gould.

A.J. Dillon’s 6-yard touchdown run capped a 69-yard drive on the game’s opening possession that put the Packers ahead 7-0. Green Bay’s offense didn’t do much of anything after that.

Green Bay’s special teams fared even worse.

Well before that blocked punt, San Francisco’s Jimmie Ward blocked a 39-yard field-goal attempt from Mason Crosby on the final play of the first half, preventing the Packers from extending their lead to 10-0. The Packers also allowed Samuel to return the second-half kickoff 45 yards, setting up the 49ers’ first field goal.

San Francisco won by overcoming a brutal start from its offense. The 49ers had minus-10 yards in their first four series, three of which included third-down sacks. It was the first time the 49ers had opened a game with four straight three-and-outs since a 27-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 27, 2009.

San Francisco didn’t get a single first down or pass completion until Garoppolo connected with George Kittle on a 15-yard gain with less than 6 ½ minutes left in the second quarter. Garoppolo was just 9 of 17 for 105 yards with an interception, but the 49ers still managed to win.

“It took everything,” Garoppolo said. “We knew it was going to. I mean, it was just offense, defense, special teams — everybody stepping up and doing their part. Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Bengals 19, Titans 16

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals just keep ending postseason droughts, and their latest victory has them in their first AFC championship game in 33 years.

Rookie Evan McPherson kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the fourth-seeded Bengals past the top-seeded Tennessee Titans 19-16 on Saturday to end the NFL’s longest active road playoff skid.

“He’s got ice in his veins,” Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow said of McPherson. “There’s not much more to be said. He’s just as cool as it gets.”

A week after snapping a 31-year playoff victory drought, the Bengals (12-7) finally won their first road game in the postseason after losing their first seven. They reached the 1981 and 1988 Super Bowls by winning on their home field.

Cincinnati will play in the AFC championship game next Sunday at the winner of the Buffalo-Kansas City matchup in the other AFC divisional round game Sunday.

The Bengals intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times, setting up two of McPherson’s four field goals. Logan Wilson picked off Tannehill with 20 seconds left at the Cincinnati 47. Joe Burrow hit Pro Bowl rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase with a 19-yard pass, then the Bengals ran twice to set up McPherson for the win.

“That’s a kicker’s dream,” McPherson said, “to have the game on your shoulders.”

Burrow shook off being sacked nine times as Tennessee tied an NFL mark held by four other teams for the most in the postseason. The Bengals’ second-year quarterback threw for 348 yards, and Chase finished with 109 yards receiving.

Joe Mixon ran for the Bengals’ lone touchdown, a 16-yarder on their first drive of the third quarter.

“We found a way all year,” Burrow said. “Man, crazy, crazy game. That’s a really, really good team. Unbelievable defensive line. They had a great plan on defense. Credit to them, we found a way at the end.”

The Titans (12-6) wrapped up their 25th season in Tennessee with their third straight loss on their own field as the AFC’s No. 1 seed. They haven’t won at home in the playoffs since January 2003.

“I don’t think Ryan or myself or anybody did enough to win the game,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “That’s how it goes. It’s never going to be about one person, not as long as I’m head coach, which will be a while.”

Tennessee had Derrick Henry, the 2020 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, on the field after he missed nine games with a broken foot. He ran for a touchdown and finished with 66 yards.

Tannehill was picked off on the Titans’ first play of the game. His second came on first-and-goal at the Bengals 9 in the third. He finished with 220 yards passing. A.J. Brown had five catches for 142 yards.

Burrow was the NFL’s most sacked quarterback during the season, just ahead of Tannehill.

The Titans sacked him on his first snap and had three in the first quarter alone. Burrow joins Donovan McNabb as the only quarterback to be sacked at least eight times in the playoffs and win. McNabb and Philadelphia won 20-17 in overtime against Green Bay.

The Titans had plenty of opportunities to win.

Henry was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Cincinnati 37 instead of Tennessee trying a long field goal for the lead with 7:16 left. They also got the ball back with 2:43 left and plenty of time to drive for the winning field goal themselves after scoring 10 points within 90 seconds late in the third quarter, tying it up at 16.

But Tennessee showed little awareness of the clock, running only one play before the clock stopped for the 2-minute warning. On the third play, Tannehill’s pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was picked off by Wilson, setting up the Bengals for the winning field goal.

“All day we were just shooting ourselves in the foot,” Brown said of the Titans.

McPherson converted for his 11th field goal from 50 yards or longer, the most in a season for one player.

“He stepped up big and got us to where we need to go,” Burrow said.

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