49ers, Packers add to their playoff legacy with thrilling finish in Brock Purdy vs. Jordan Love duel

The 2024 NFL postseason had been fairly lackluster to date. Heading into the Packers-49ers divisional-round bout, there had been only one game during the entire course of the playoffs that featured a lead change, and teams were winning by an average of 18.3 points.

The 49ers and Packers reversed that trend in a major way on Saturday night. There were five lead changes, and at no point did either team lead by more than seven points. 

It also featured the most exciting finish of the postseason, with the fate of the game still up in the air with just over a minute to play.

The game was ultimately decided by which young quarterback — Brock Purdy or Jordan Love — could clutch out the win. Purdy led the 49ers on a drive ending with a go-ahead touchdown with 1:07 to play. Love threw a game-sealing interception four plays later, as San Francisco punched a ticket to the NFC Championship game behind a 24-21 victory.

MORE: Late turnovers erase Love’s early success

Here’s how the game reached its thrilling ending.

How the 49ers beat the Packers: A tale of two drives

Brock Purdy’s clutch throws

For just over three quarters, it felt like the narrative of Purdy’s game would be his inconsistency. He was missing wide-open receivers, and often had to be bailed out by acrobatic catches by his players.

But when the 49ers needed him most, Purdy turned into the quarterback who tallied a franchise-record 4,280 passing yards in 2023. San Francisco faced a pivotal 3rd-and-5 at the San Francisco 47 with 3:38 left on the clock. Purdy stayed in a closing pocket and fired a missile over the middle, which was caught by a diving Brandon Aiyuk for 10 yards and the first down.

The next play, Purdy uncorked another impressive toss, hitting Chris Conley on an out route for 17 yards up to the Packers’ 26. The pass found Conley in a brief window between two defenders.

Overall on the drive, Purdy went 6-for-7 for 47 yards. He also converted a 3rd-and-1 with a quarterback sneak and scrambled for nine yards to the Packers’ 6, setting up the game-winning touchdown.

Jordan Love’s interception

Love put together another outstanding performance in his second playoff start, but his outing will be most remembered for two throws. The first mistake came in the third quarter, when he threw behind Tucker Kraft and the ball deflected off the tight end’s hands into those of linebacker Dre Greenlaw.

The next came just when the Packers needed him to put on the hero cape.

He began the drive by connecting with Romeo Doubs for a gain of eight yards. He missed Doubs on a second-down throw but found Luke Musgrave for three yards and another first down on the Packers’ 36 before calling a timeout with 52 seconds left.

With the clock ticking down, Love rolled out right and threw across his body back over the middle of the field. The ball was well underthrown in the direction of Jayden Reed, and a pair of 49ers leaped at the ball. In the end, it was Greenlaw who came away with the pick, his second interception of the day, and the one that ultimately sealed the 49ers’ win.

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