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Packers’ season ends in San Francisco

Marques Eversoll, Sports Writer/Commentary
January 30, 2013
Filed under Sports, Top Stories

Fresh off a record-breaking 15-1 season, the Green Bay Packers entered 2012 with high expectations.

Many were thought to be a foregone conclusion, and another Super Bowl was well within the realm of possibility. But adversity struck the team early in the season.

The Packers fell victim to the infamous “Fail Mary” in Seattle, and the injury bug sunk its teeth deep into the roster once again.

Starting inside linebacker Desmond Bishop suffered a season-ending leg injury in the team’s first preseason game, and right tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season with a hip injury in week nine. Losing several key players put additional pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The reigning NFL MVP threw 39 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while posting a league-high passer rating of 108.0. Rodgers led the Packers to a second-consecutive NFC North championship before their season ended where it began — against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Packers kicked off the 2012 season against the 49ers at Lambeau Field. San Francisco controlled the game from the start, providing the Packers with a reality check of what would be to come.

Green Bay bounced back with a statement victory against the Chicago Bears. The defense smothered quarterback Jay Cutler for a 23-10 win.

Things were back to normal on Lombardi Avenue — until the team traveled to Seattle in week three.

In perhaps the most memorable game of the 2012 season, the Packers fell victim to the NFL’s replacement officials. Leading 12-7 with one play remaining, Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson heaved a desperation pass toward wide receiver Golden Tate in the end zone.

The pass appeared to be pinned against the chest of Packers safety M.D. Jennings. Tate stuck his arms in there and did his best to wrestle the ball away. Replacement referee Lance Easley ruled it a catch for Tate and a victory for the Seahawks.

The controversial call forced the NFL to end the lockout with the regular officials.

Green Bay bounced back with a win over the New Orleans Saints in week four. Sitting at 2-2, the Packers was set to take on the Indianapolis Colts, whose head coach Chuck Pagano had just been diagnosed with leukemia.

Leading 21-3 at halftime, an emotional Colts team battled back and won 30-27. The Packers faced an early-season crossroads at 2-3.

With his back against the wall, Rodgers was at his best against the previously unbeaten Houston Texans. Rodgers threw six touchdowns, and the Packers were back to .500 on the season. This would be the start of a five-game winning steak, putting the team at 7-3.

But a beaten-up Packers team crumbled in week 12 against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The 28-point loss was the Packers’ biggest margin of defeat since 2007.

The Packers followed the disappointing loss with a four-game winning streak. A week 17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings meant the 11-5 Packers would be the No. 3 seed in the NFC, setting up a rematch between the division rivals in the wild card round of the playoffs.

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was a late scratch, bumping backup Joe Webb into the starting lineup. The Packers fell behind 3-0 early but battled back and won handily.

It was on to San Francisco for the Packers.

Once upon a time, the 49ers held the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. In need of a quarterback, San Francisco’s decision was expected to come down to Utah quarterback Alex Smith or California’s Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers went with Smith, and Rodgers fell to the Green Bay Packers with the 24th overall pick.

Smith was replaced by second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick in week 11. With Kaepernick as the starter, the 49ers went 5-2 to finish the regular season, setting up a divisional round matchup against Rodgers and the Packers.

Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards, the highest total for a quarterback in NFL history, and accounted for four total touchdowns. In the 45-31 loss, the Packers was sent home empty-handed.

As one of the most storied franchises in professional sports, it’s all about championships for the Green Bay Packers. All things considered, the 2012 team had a successful run.

But looking ahead to 2013, the Packers will have to answer a lot of questions as the team chases a 14th world championship.