The Green Bay Packers were one play away from making a big defensive stop. The San Francisco 49ers had third and six on the Packers’ 10 yard line and were trying to score off of a fumble by Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick scrambled to his left and started heading to the sideline, about two yards short of the first down marker. As Kaepernick was heading out of bounds, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews dove and tried to tackle Kaepernick before he got to the first down.
The problem for Matthews was that Kaepernick was already out of bounds, so Matthews got slapped with a personal foul, late hit out of bounds penalty, which would result in an automatic first down. Trying to protect his quarterback, 49ers tackle Joe Staley got into a scuffle with Matthews, which resulted in Staley getting a personal foul as well. Since both penalties were after the play, they should have offset and the 49ers should have had fourth and two at the Packers six yard line. While the referees did say the penalties were offsetting, they incorrectly called for the down to be replayed, and the 49ers scored a touchdown on that extra third down.
That led many people to ask the question: Did that blown call affect the outcome of the game?
If the referees would have made the correct call, the 49ers would more than likely have kicked the field goal, which at the time would have given them a 10-7 lead. The Packers scored a touchdown on their next drive, which would have given them a 14-10 lead at the half. If the game would have played out like it did with the blown call, that would have meant the Packers would have had the ball, down two, with 26 seconds left. Again, if the game played out like it had, instead of going for the Hail Mary, the Packers might have kicked a 60 yard field goal with Mason Crosby for the win.
While that blown call was big, what many people have forgotten was Jermichael Finley’s dropped pass that resulted in an interception. The Packers were driving into 49ers territory, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a perfect strike to Finley over the middle of the field. Finley, who has had issues catching the football, let the ball slip through his hands and into the lap of 49ers safety Eric Reid. While the 49ers did not score on the drive, the Packers were moving the ball and could very easily have scored a touchdown.
Add that possible touchdown to the one at the end of the second quarter, and the Packers would have been leading by seven at halftime, even with the blown call. While this game might be remembered for that botched call, it should not be overlooked that the Packers hung with the 49ers all the way until the end. The game was definitely full of moments that affected the outcome. On the brighter side, these two teams haven’t seen the last of each other. A January meeting may be just over the horizon.