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Game recap: 5 takeaways from Packers' playoff loss to 49ers

“It’s going to sting for a long time”

QB Jordan Love
QB Jordan Love

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Packers left the West Coast full of regrets after their 24-21 loss to the 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoff on a rainy Saturday night at Levi's Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from the difficult defeat:

  1. This one hurts.

There was more to the loss than just the end of the game, but putting the lens on crunch time for now, here was the situation and what unfolded:

Leading 21-17, the Packers had a first down just 24 yards from a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that would've put them up two scores.

But they stalled, rookie kicker Anders Carlson missed from 41 yards out, the 49ers drove 69 yards the other way for the go-ahead TD and then intercepted QB Jordan Love on the game's final drive.

From pristine position to bounced from the playoffs, just like that, and a fifth straight postseason loss to San Francisco that dates back to the divisional round 11 years ago.

"Well, I think anytime there's a finality to the season, it's always tough unless you're the last team standing," said Head Coach Matt LaFleur, who has been eliminated from the postseason by San Francisco three times now. "For us to lose this game certainly stings, and I'm sure it's going to sting for a long time.

"I told the guys part of the reason it stings so bad right now is we fully believed and fully expected to win this game."

  1. They had their chances, especially early.

Three times in the first half, the Packers got into the red zone, but they came away with just six points on two field goals, getting stopped on a fourth-and-short QB sneak on the other one.

Those failures loomed large all night, both when the Packers entered halftime trailing 7-6 and when they had the lead in the fourth quarter as well.

LaFleur and Love gave the 49ers credit for standing tall in the red zone, but an offense that had been so good late in the year at finishing drives was frustrated it didn't do so.

"I felt like we had plenty of opportunities to put the game out of reach and unfortunately just didn't do enough," LaFleur said. "There was a lot of plays out there. If one play goes different, we probably have a different result right now.

"We just didn't make enough plays. I'm mad about a couple of play calls. It's unfortunate."

Added Love: "It's going to be tough to win a game going against a good offense when you're not putting up enough points like that."

Check out photos from the NFC Divisional playoff matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024.