Yesterday Greg Roman said the Green Bay Packers were “almost like a Division opponent.” It’s easy to see why, as they’re getting set to play each other for the second time in the same season for the second consecutive year. Division rivals are like siblings in that they fight all the time, except they don’t love each other.
The San Francisco 49ers drove the Packers crazy last year when they beat Green Bay, once with Alex Smith as the starting quarterback and a second time in the playoffs with Colin Kaepernick at the helm. The way the 49ers beat the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round was pretty embarrassing for Green Bay, as the 49ers scored 45 points and Kaepernick set an all-time record for rushing yards from a quarterback.
Fast forward to 2013. Throw in some comments before Week 1 from Matthews before the teams faced each other this season about taking shots at the quarterback during read option plays — remarks Jim Harbaugh labeled as “tough talk” — and the scene was set.
Matthews is out for Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field, but the same spirit remains. We probably won’t see either team do anything crazy that could possibly draw a 15-yard penalty, but it’s still fun to check out the backstory in GIF form.
Regardless of which team you root for and whether or not you think Matthews took a cheap shot, this is still a pretty cool looking play in slow-motion (we can say that now, since Kaepernick played almost every down this season).
Harbaugh advised Matthews to “come with some knuckles” the day after this game, as he didn’t appreciate the way the Packers outside linebacker struck Joe Staley’s face. You know, because punching someone in the helmet is good for the knuckles. The knuckles thrive off that kind of contact.
Here’s Staley vs. Matthews from another angle. Afterward Staley told Kaepernick on the sideline, “We’re setting a precedent. No one is (expletive) hitting you late.”
Here’s how it looked from the press box, where it was tough to tell exactly what was going on or how severe this fight would become. Jonathan Goodwin was a little late to the party.
I’ll always remember when Matthews flew through the air and hit Kaepernick just after he stepped out of bounds. As the 49ers offense and Packers defense converged and players started grabbing and shoving one another, I had the same thought probably went through everyone’s head at the time: this is going to be a crazy season.
We took a look earlier today at Anquan Boldin’s amazing afternoon against the Packers (in GIF form). Here he is showing the ass-kicking part of his personality that Harbaugh mentioned on Wednesday.
After the game the NFL said the officials botched this play completely, and that only Matthews should’ve been flagged (which would’ve given the 49ers 1st-and-goal from the 3-yard line). In reality, Matthews and Staley were called for offsetting personal fouls and the officials screwed up again as they replayed third down, only after moving the ball five yards back to the spot where Kaepernick went out of bounds. Not many people noticed the mistake at the time, since we were all trying to figure out what we had just watched.
Boldin caught a 10-yard touchdown pass on the next play, and he was probably lucky not to get called for a personal foul for what he did in the GIF above.
Near the end, after Boldin caught a 15-yard pass on 4th-and-2. Neither Tramon Williams nor Johnny Jolly were all that interested in letting Boldin get up. Boldin went over 200 yards and this catch pretty much sealed the game since the Packers were out of timeouts, so this minor scuffle was probably caused primarily by frustration.
To show that there are no hard feelings between some of the players on these two proud squads, Aldon Smith was downright courteous after tackling Aaron Rodgers on the last play of the game.
Here’s video I shot down on the field as the final play was going on. After filming this I got into a fistfight with a Packers blogger. After punching his cheesehead a few times I got bored and headed to the locker room. My hand still smells like Wisconsin cheddar. That’s not actually true, because bloggers don’t fight. They subtweet.
If you pay close attention at the beginning of the video, you can see Boldin sprint to the locker room at the moment the play was dead. Also, B.J. Daniels made a cameo appearance.