15 Dec Can You Have Two Game-Winning Drives in One Game?
The answer is obviously no, but Jimmy Garoppolo came close to doing that vs the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday.
The 49ers got the ball first and quickly were forced to punt after a sack from Trey Hendrickson. The Bengals punted on their first possession as well. The 49ers punted again on their second possession, but the Bengals punt-returner, Darius Phillips, muffed the punt & River Cracraft recovered it on the CIN 23-yard line. Unfortunately, the 49ers only gained an additional 8 yards & had to settle for a 33-yard FG. On their next possession, the Bengals drove 67 yards down to the SF 19-yard line & stalled out. They were then forced to kick a 37-yard field goal, to tie the game at 3-3. On their next possession, the 49ers started at their own 25 & drove the length of the field to score a rushing TD by Deebo Samuel. The WR/RB/OW was able to turn the corner and find the endzone from 27 yards out to make it 10-3. After trading a couple of punts, the Bengals’ next drive ended in a 28-yard FG, to make it 10-6. The 49ers’ defense was able to come up big on third down again to hold the Bengals to a FG. The 49ers quickly punted on their next possession after going three and out, but CIN punt-returner Darius Phiilips muffed the punt again, giving Trent Sherfield & the 49ers the ball at the CIN 31-yard line! Four plays later, the 49ers scored on a 14-yard pass to George Kittle, who stretched out to get inside the pylon, making the score 17-6 at halftime.
The third quarter was fairly uneventful, other than a Robbie Gould 24-yard FG with 7:46 left in the quarter & a missed 46-yard FG by the Bengals with 1:18 remaining in the quarter. The fourth quarter started out slow too, then Joe Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase for a 17-yard TD on fourth down, with 9:29 left in the game, to make it 20-13. The 49ers continued to be ineffective on offense, and it prevented them from putting the game away. Joe Burrow then hit Ja’Marr Chase again, for his second TD of the day, which tied the game at 20-20 with just 1:25 left in the game.
The 49ers could win it with only a FG, and they had plenty of time to get it in FG range for Robbie Gould. Jimmy Garoppolo was extremely efficient on this potentially game-winning drive. After beginning on their own 21, Garoppolo hit Jennings for 9 yards, Juice for another 5 yards & a few plays later connect with Aiyuk for another gain of 17 yards! Just like that, the 49ers were down to the CIN 48! However, the heroic drive by Jimmy Garoppolo almost came down in burning flames, as he threw what should’ve been a pick-six to Bengals DB Jessie Bates III, but luckily for the 49ers, he wasn’t able to hang on to the ball! The very next play, Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle, who made an epic, leaping catch for 19 yards, on an extremely high throw to get the 49ers into FG range with 12 seconds left in regulation! Two incomplete passes later, its third down at CIN 29 with only :04 left! the Could it be actually happening?
The answer? No. Robbie Gould missed the 47-yard FG attempt, sending the game to OT. A game-winning drive by the 49ers had been wasted.
The 49ers lost the coin toss, which allowed the Bengals to get the ball the first in OT. They were driving down the field with ease. For a minute, it looked as if they might score a walkoff touchdown, when Nick Bosa made huge sack on CIN QB Joe Burrow on third down, which forced the Bengals to kick a 41-yard FG, allowing the 49ers to have a shot at redemption.
The 49ers began their drive at their own 25-yard line after a touchback. Then, Jimmy Garoppolo really shined brightly. He began by hitting George Kittle for 8 yards, and after a false start penalty backed them up 5 yards, he hit Jauan Jennings on a beautiful deep out for 25 yards down to the CIN 47! The next play, Garoppolo hit George Kittle again for another 21-yard gain down to the CIN 26! Two plays later the 49ers were facing a big 3rd & 5 at the CIN 21, and Garoppolo hit who else but Kittle for another gain of 9 yards down to the CIN 12!
One play later, Garopopolo connected with Brandon Aiyuk for a huge 12 yard catch-and-run for the game-winning TD! This was the second game-winning drive, if you will.
George Kittle was a monster, again! He was the MVP of the game, with 13 catches for 151 yards & a TD. George is the only TE ever to have 150 yards & a TD in back-to-back games!
Deebo Samuel had 8 rushes for 37 yards & the 1st TD of the game, plus 1 catch for 25 yards, Hopefully next week he’s back to 100%.
Brandon Aiyuk had 6 catches for 62 yards & the crucial game-winning TD, in OT. The second-year WR has really responded well after a shaky start to the season.
Jeff Wilson Jr. was the main RB with Elijah Mitchell out, and finished the day with 13 carries for 56 yards (4.3 yards per carry).
I thought Jimmy G. & Joe Burrow both had fairly similar performances, but this is eerie:
The 49ers lost LB Azeez Al-Shaair to what was later ruled a day-to-day elbow sprain & CB Ambry Thomas with a concussion.
The 49ers benefitted from some egregious errors by the Bengals. Two muffed punt recoveries, a critical taunting penalty & dropped pick-six on the last drive of regulation. If any of these three things didn’t happen, the 49ers most likely would have lost the game. They can’t count on this happening every week, but they got a big win on the road vs a team that had a ton to play for. If the Bengals had won, they would’ve moved up to the top spot in their division and fourth seed in the AFC. Instead, they fell all the way down out of the playoffs, down to the ninth seed!
I wasn’t happy with Jimmy G. for most of the game, including only scoring 3 points in the entire second half. However, he certainly was dazzling in OT. The 49ers’ defense played very well for most of the game, but they eventually got tired from being on the field for too long. The 49ers’ offense failing to sustain drives in the second half of the game almost proved to be too much to overcome. Azeez Al-Shaair getting injured was huge blow too, and the team dodged a bullet with him not being seriously injured. 49ers special teams unit was just OK, but the Bengals’ repeated mistakes made them look great.
The referees didn’t do the 49ers any favors, but I’ll save my breath about that (for now). Suffice it to say, we shouldn’t expect any breaks from them when the 49ers have a lead.
They will need CB Dontae Johnson & LB Dre Greenlaw back in the lineups soon. DT Maurice Hurst & DE Dee Ford would be welcome additions back on the defensive line as well. Unfortunately, it does not look like we will see Dee Ford this season, as the team only has a couple of days left to activate him from his practice window.
Currently, the 49ers’ chances look good to make the playoffs:
Keep an eye out for my 49ers/Falcons preview, coming soon!