Mitch Wishnowsky’s 49ers stay in Super Bowl contention after epic comeback win on final drive sinks Packers
From Levi’s Stadium, California
There are two Australians still remaining in the NFL Super Bowl contention following the first day of divisional playoff games, but it was not without a fright for the NFC top-seed.
San Francisco 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky helped keep his side in the trophy hunt in a thrilling NFC Divisional Round game, where the home side ground out a three-point win against a brave Green Bay, thanks to a final quarter comeback.
Down by four in the final three minutes, San Francisco capped off a 69-yard drive with a Christian McCaffrey touchdown that would be the match-winning play.
Like it has done many times for the Packers in Wisconsin, the home weather turned it on to help their side with the Packers forced to go three-quarters of the field in driving rain. It delivered an error from the Packers quarterback, and the 49ers sealed the exciting contest with an interception.
The 31-year-old from Western Australia was required just once in the first half, with a 57-yard punt after his side fell behind to a Packers field goal.
He was soon into the action in the second half taking his punting yardage into triple figures with a 44-yard kick after an unsuccessful opening drive just 85 seconds after halftime.
It was an important 48-yard kick late in the third quarter from Wishnowsky, saving the 49ers who appeared trapped in their own red zone. It allowed the defensive team to apply pressure on the opposing QB forcing an all-important interception that led to a field goal.
It was another big play from the San Francisco punter late in the game, keeping the ball in play to pin Green Bay in their 10-yard line. His hard work looked to have been brought undone when his teammates let running back Aaron Jones made 53 yards. In the end, no damage was done as the FG attempt was missed, and the home side went on the attack with five minutes remaining.
In steady rain at San Francisco’s Levi Stadium, the match was an arm wrestle during the first half, with the teams separated by just a point, thanks to the solo touchdown scored from an impressive 32-yard pass from Brock Purdy to George Kittle.
It could have been a bigger lead to San Francisco, but right on the stroke of halftime, there was a rare field goal deflection. From 48 yards out Jake Moody had his kick blocked by Green Bay’s Colby Wooden.
Luck went the way of the visiting side in the third quarter, as the game opened up. Quarterback Jordan Love tried a sneak up the middle, which was originally marked as no gain. The Packers reviewed and the call was reversed, giving them a fresh set of downs.
A few plays later, after losing ground, a 41-yard downfield pass led to defensive pass interference at the 49ers end of the field. Bo Melton scored the play later to give Green Bay the lead, thanks to a slip from a defender.
But the lead was short-lived, a brilliant solo effort from running back Christian McCaffrey who produced some scintillating sidesteps around several defenders and ran 39-yards to the end zone.
As the skies dried up momentarily, the points started to flow. From the kick-off the Packers made a 73-yard return that resulted in a hit-back TD with a two-point conversion, and the margin was seven points at the end of the third quarter.
With the margin back to four thanks to a FG that began the final quarter,
Earlier Baltimore Ravens advanced to next weekend’s AFC championship game, with a comfortable 34-10 win over the Houston Texans.
There was a battle of Australian versus Australian with Ravens offensive tackle Daniel Faalele continuing his play-off run and his team’s red-hot form. But it came at the expense of fellow Australian, and punter for Houston, Cameron Johnston.
It was another consistent performance from the Geelong native, who was part of the Melbourne Demons AFL squad and Casey in the VFL. From his five kicks, he made 217 yards at an average of more than 43, and the longest 54 yards.
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Scores were level at 10-all at halftime before Baltimore flexed their muscle running in 24 unanswered points.