But as legendary quarterback Peyton Manning points out, the ones that might have hurt the most are the ones straight from the archives of legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Two episodes of “Detail” breaking down the AFC and NFC Championship Games are available on ESPN+ as a preview the 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, Fox).
Niners running back Raheem Mostert stole the show in his team’s 37-20 win against Green Bay, ripping off big runs left and right to gain 220 yards and score four touchdowns on 29 carries, making for the second-most prolific rushing day in NFL postseason history.
A big chunk of those yards came on old-fashioned Packers runs, according to Manning’s analysis of the game tape.
“The 49ers are actually running kind of a version of the ‘Packers sweep,’” Manning said. “They’re using Vince Lombardi’s play to beat Vince Lombardi’s team, the Green Bay Packers. It’s legal. It’s hard to swallow.”
Manning points out the seal blocks on the outside provided by fullback Kyle Juszczyk and guard Mike Person to create an alley for Mostert to run through before the video cuts to Lombardi discussing the simple outside running play.
On the play, Mostert goes 34 yards to Green Bay’s 35, setting up a field goal that put the Niners up 20-0.
Manning also takes a dive into the Niners’ defensive discipline, pointing out plays on which nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams forces a screen pass to Packers receiver Davante Adams back inside, where he has help, and the work of cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to see two consecutive plays that look similar, recognizing what he was seeing and coming away with an interception.
“That just shows up over and over again this game,” Manning said. “The 49ers doing the little things right. Those are the things that help you win an NFC championship.”
THAT. WAS. INCREDIBLE.
— NFL (@NFL) January 19, 2020
He notes that on this play, both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are double-covered, so there are a lot of defenders with their backs to Mahomes as the play develops. The Titans have smartly accounted for this by having linebacker Rashaan Evans lurk near the line of scrimmage as a spy — or someone available as a tackler in the event that Mahomes runs.
Mahomes does run, and the part of the play that makes it work comes when he fakes Evans toward the middle of the field. Mahomes then cuts the play toward the sideline and, with Evans taken care of, finds plenty of running room as he heads toward the end zone.
Manning also notes that Mahomes switches hands with the ball several times as he nears the end zone. He’s trying to protect the ball and keep it away from approaching defenders. Mahomes briefly bobbles the ball just before going down, but he holds on as he lands in the end zone to give the Chiefs a 21-17 lead in a game they go on to win 35-24.