GREEN BAY – Trailing by a touchdown with no timeouts and three minutes remaining, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense stepped to the line of scrimmage late in Monday night’s meeting with the San Francisco 49ers in need of a big play.
Look no further than Davante Adams and a wide-ranging cast of receivers to provide it.
In typical Rodgers fashion, the two-time NFL MVP orchestrated another monumental comeback in a 33-30 victory over the 49ers thanks in part to standout performances from Adams, tight end Jimmy Graham and rookie receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Adams provided a much-needed lift for the offense down the stretch with a 38-yard catch to set up his own 16-yard touchdown three plays later that tied the game at 30 with just under two minutes remaining.
After cornerback Kevin King’s interception gave Green Bay’s offense the ball back with a little more than a minute left, Adams capped a 10-catch, 132-yard day with a 19-yard reception that led to Mason Crosby’s game-winning 27-yard field goal as time expired.
The Pro Bowl receiver, who also drew a critical illegal contact call on 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman on third-and-15 to extend the final series, finished the weekend ranked third in the league in receptions (47), sixth in receiving yards (557) and tied for first with six touchdown catches.
“At the end of the day, winning is what matters,” Adams said. “You definitely don’t want to have a heart attack every week like this, but I think these are the ones that show your true character. We can definitely learn a lot from ourselves and learn a lot from the game, being able to pull one out like that.”
The Packers had three players eclipse 100 receiving yards against the 49ers, with Graham (five catches for 104 yards) and Valdes-Scantling (three for 103) each passing the century mark for the first time in Packers uniforms.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the second time in franchise history three Packers players recorded at least 100 receiving yards in a single game and the first since Oct. 12, 1980, at Tampa Bay (RB Eddie Lee Ivery, TE Paul Coffman and WR Aundra Thompson).
The Packers got the fast start they were looking for right off the bat with Rodgers hitting Valdes-Scantling for 60 yards on the first offensive play of the game for Green Bay, which ended with a 2-yard Ty Montgomery run off a backwards screen pass behind the line of scrimmage.
Two series later, Rodgers connected with Graham on a 54-yard completion that marked the five-time Pro Bowl tight end’s longest catch in five seasons.
“It just felt good to make some plays in a big moment when we needed it. I just have to learn how to run when it’s really cold out,” Graham joked. “I was trying to lift my knees up. I need more practice with the cold stuff. That’s for sure.”
The Packers tacked on two more field goals off takeaways, but didn’t find the end zone again until late. Green Bay came within four yards of San Francisco’s end zone early in the fourth quarter, but turned the ball over on downs after an end-zone pass to Valdes-Scantling fell incomplete on fourth down.
The Packers’ defense made two key stops to give Rodgers one more chance at the comeback and he didn’t disappoint. He made perhaps the biggest pass of the game on third-and-2 with 15 seconds remaining with a successful back-shoulder completion to Equanimeous St. Brown, who made a tiptoe 19-yard catch along the sideline to get into scoring territory.
“He just called an all-go,” St. Brown said. “I don’t really know where he’s going to throw it, but you always have to be ready with him out there. He can put the ball anywhere he wants. It was a back-shoulder ball, and you’ve just got to make the catch and get out of bounds and stop the clock.”
Adams then moved the ball into chip-shot range for Crosby with a 19-yard catch of his own on the next play, completing a 201-yard fourth quarter for Green Bay’s offense and a 425-yard day for Rodgers through the air.
The Packers hope to get veteran receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison back in the fold from hamstring injuries after the bye week, but Adams and Graham praised Green Bay’s rookie receivers for helping stem the tide the past few weeks.
While the Packers are still eyeing a complete game on the offensive side of the ball, Monday was another example of a team finding a way to win with the game on the line.
“We’re capable of anything. We have a lot of talent on our side of the ball,” Valdes-Scantling said. “We’re ready to keep showing what we can do. … Just putting it all together is the biggest thing. We’re still working on that, but as you can see, we’re getting better week by week improving the things we need to improve on.”