The Rich NFL Playoff History of the Packers vs. 49ers

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IJanuary 4, 2014

The Rich NFL Playoff History of the Packers vs. 49ers

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    The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers are two of the more successful teams in NFL history. It should come as no surprise that these teams have hooked up in some epic playoff battles.

    Six times the Pack and the Niners have met in the postseason, the seventh matchup will take place this Sunday at frozen Lambeau Field.

    Some of the game's greatest players have taken part in the playoff rivalry between these two clubs: Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Reggie White, Aaron Rodgers and Terrell Owens have all had magic moments in this series.

    Three times, the winner of this game has gone on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

    Here is a look back at the six previous Packers-49ers playoff meetings.

1995 NFC Divisional Playoff: Packers 27, 49ers 17

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    The 49ers were the defending Super Bowl champions and had played in the last three NFC title games entering this contest. The Niners and Dallas Cowboys were considered the two dominant teams in the league before this game, but the Packers pulled off an upset and announced to the rest of the league that they were a force to be reckoned with.

    Green Bay's defense set the tone early. On San Francisco's first offensive drive, linebacker Wayne Simmons hit fullback Adam Walker and forced him to cough up the ball. Cornerback Craig Newsome picked up the ball and ran it back 31 yards for a touchdown, and the Packers took an early 7-0 lead in front of a stunned crowd at Candlestick Park.

    Brett Favre followed up that big turnover with 62 and 72-yard touchdown drives that culminated with touchdown passes to Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura, and the Packers grabbed a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

    The Packers defense took advantage of the early lead and put pressure on Steve Young all game long. Young was sacked three times and hit and hurried throughout the game.

    Jerry Rice made 11 catches for 117 yards, but the Packers limited his yards after catch and prevented the big play.

    The Packers cruised to a 27-17 victory and advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since the "Ice Bowl."

1996 NFC Divisional Playoff: Packers 35, 49ers 14

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    The Packers went 13-3 in 1996, while the Niners finished with a 12-4 mark. While most fans refer to Lambeau Field as "The Frozen Tundra," the temperature held at 34 degrees. Rain fell, and the field became a quagmire of mud.

    Young was injured, so Elvis Grbac got the call at quarterback for San Francisco.

    Special teams would play a big role in this game. Desmond Howard got the Packers on the board early with a 71-yard punt return through the mud to make it 7-0 Green Bay just 2:15 into the contest.

    A second Howard punt return midway through the opening quarter set the Pack up at the San Francisco 7 and set up a four-yard touchdown toss from Favre to Andre Rison and the Packers were up 14-0.

    Howard made a big mistake to start the second half, however. The Packers led 21-7, but Howard failed to take the field with the kick-return unit, and the 49ers pounced on the loose ball deep in Green Bay territory. Grbac scored on a four-yard bootleg to close the gap to 21-14.

    The Packers took control of the game after that. Running back Edgar Bennett was the catalyst for a 12-play, 72-yard drive that ate up a lot of time and ended when Antonio Freeman recovered a fumble in the end zone to put the Pack back up by two scores.

    The final was 35-14 as neither offense moved the ball well on the muddy field. The 49ers were held to 196 total yards on the game, and the Packers advanced to the NFC title game for the second consecutive season.

1997 NFC Championship Game: Packers 23, 49ers 10

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    Both the Packers and 49ers finished 13-3 in 1997, but the Niners were the top seed and earned the right to host the NFC Championship Game.

    Rain swept the Bay Area, marking the second straight season these two teams played in inclement weather.

    The game's momentum turned on a second-quarter interception by veteran safety Eugene Robinson, who returned Young's errant pass 58 yards to the San Francisco 28. Favre cashed in just two plays later when he found Freeman on a slant pattern to give the Packers a 10-0 lead.

    The 49ers had a chance to get back in the game late in the first half but failed to find the end zone, despite having a first down on the Green Bay 10. A field goal pulled San Francisco to within seven points but left Favre enough time for one late drive.

    The key play was a 40-yard pass to Freeman which set up a long field goal by Ryan Longwell on the final play of the half. The score easily could have been 10-7, but the Packers actually led at the half 13-3 and took back the momentum with the late score.

    In the second half, the Green Bay defense clamped down and sacked Young four times. Outside linebacker Keith McKenzie had two of the sacks to keep San Francisco from mounting a comeback attempt.

    Dorsey Levens ran for 114 yards and a touchdown. The lone San Francisco touchdown came with just 2:52 left in the game when Chuck Levy returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score.

    The Packers won the game 23-10 and headed for their second straight Super Bowl appearance. 

1998 NFC Wild Card: 49ers 30, Packers 27

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    The Packers and 49ers met in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season in 1998 and for the first time, the 49ers emerged with a win. The game was a thriller that went down to the final seconds but was not without controversy.

    The Packers took a 27-23 lead with just 1:56 left on a 15-yard pass from Favre to Freeman. This time, however, the 49ers found a way to come back.

    Young led San Francisco on a 76-yard drive that ended with just three seconds left when he found Terrell Owens in the end zone between four Green Bay defenders to give San Francisco a 30-27 victory.

    The controversy came earlier in the drive when Jerry Rice was stripped of the ball at the Green Bay 41, and linebacker Bernardo Harris recovered the fumble. Replays clearly showed the ball coming out before Rice's knee was down, but there was no instant replay, and the officials ruled Rice down before the fumble, so San Francisco retained the ball.

    Young then went on to finish the drive in dramatic fashion, finding Owens in the end zone to give the 49ers their most dramatic last-second win since "The Catch" in the 1981 NFC title game.

    This was Mike Holmgren's last game as coach of the Packers, as five days later, he left to become the coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

    The 49ers were eliminated from the playoffs the following week by the Atlanta Falcons.

2001 NFC Wild Card: Packers 25, 49ers 15

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    The Packers trailed 7-6 at halftime but managed to score four times in the second half to earn a 25-15 win over the visiting 49ers in the 2001 NFC Wild Card Game.

    Favre found tight end Bubba Franks on a 19-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter to put the Packers ahead 15-7, but Jeff Garcia hit wide receiver Tai Streets on a 14-yard touchdown strike early in the fourth quarter followed by a two-point conversion that evened the score at 15-15.

    The 49ers were driving for the go-ahead score when CB Mike McKenzie deflected a Garcia pass right to Tyrone Williams who intercepted the ball at the Green Bay 7.

    Favre then led the Packers on a 93-yard drive that culminated with Ahman Green's nine-yard touchdown run that put the Packers ahead to stay.

    Favre finished the day 22-of-29 for 269 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses, while Green added 86 yards on 21 carries.

    The Packers held Garrison Hearst to just 42 yards on 13 attempts, as they beat the 49ers for the fourth time in five playoff meetings.

2012 NFC Divisional Playoff: 49ers 45, Packers 31

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    Colin Kaepernick had his unofficial coming-out party in the 49ers' 45-31 divisional playoff win over the Packers in San Francisco.

    Kaepernick had replaced starter Alex Smith midway through the 2012 season and went 5-2 as a starter. But Kaepernick proved he could win in the clutch on this day, as he dominated in his postseason debut.

    The second-year man out of Nevada set an NFL playoff record for quarterbacks by rushing for 181 yards and two touchdowns, while passing for another 263 yards and two more scores.

    Things didn't start off well for Kaepernick and the 49ers as Sam Shields picked off a pass on the first drive of the game and returned it 52 yards for a Green Bay touchdown.

    But Kaepernick kept his cool and took over the game as the Packers defense had no answer for the read-option. San Francisco rolled up 579 yards of total offense and broke open a 24-24 game by scoring the next three touchdowns.

    The 49ers went on to their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1994 season, while the Packers were eliminated in the divisional playoff round for the second consecutive season.