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Not-so special teams doom Packers at worst possible time

San Francisco 49ers' Robbie Gould makes a fieldgoal during the second half of an NFC divisional...
San Francisco 49ers' Robbie Gould makes a fieldgoal during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash | AP)
Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 1:34 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WSAW) -The worst special teams unit in the NFL the entire season put together an appropriate finale that may have cost the Packers a trip to the Super Bowl. It was the stuff of nightmares from special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton’s unit.

All year, many wonder if and when the Packers special teams might lose them a game, and it finally did at the worst possible time. Their season is ended by the San Francisco 49ers for the fourth time in the last decade.

“Yeah it’s extremely disappointing,” said head coach Matt LaFleur of the special teams performance. “Especially when you look at what happened tonight.”

First it was the blocked field goal that would’ve put the Packers up 10-0 going into halftime. After that a kickoff return by the 49ers to start the second half that put them at midfield eventually set them up to score their first points of the night.

The moment that will live in infamy in the growing list of Packers’ playoff disappointments was the worst of them all: A blocked punt returned for a touchdown that allowed San Francisco to tie the game with under five minutes to play.

“Yeah, I mean you could argue that was the difference in the game,” said LaFleur of the blocked punt TD. “But I think it was more than just that play.

“I don’t know exactly what happened on that play, I’ll have to go back and look at the tape. But we had two blocks in this game, and that obviously played a big part in us coming up short.”

After that unit gave the 49ers the game on a platter, they had one final, fitting embarrassing moment: The Packers only had 10 men on the field to defend the game-winning field goal.

LaFleur said with a disheartened chuckle: “Yeah…that can’t happen. It’s unacceptable, again, that’s on me.”

There are many questions to be answered in Green Bay this offseason, and Drayton’s future, just one season after being promoted from within, will be one of the biggest.

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