Turnovers Tell Tale Again vs. Niners

Just has it has been under coaches Mike McCarthy and Jim Harbaugh, turnovers determined the winner. Green Bay dominates the turnover margin just about every week but that hasn't been the case against the 49ers.

Eddie Lacy had a critical fumble.

Jermichael turned a completion into an interception.

While both made partial amends with touchdowns, turnovers again played a critical role in the Green Bay Packers' fortunes in a 34-28 loss at San Francisco.

In three matchups against San Francisco over the last calendar year, the Packers are minus-4 in turnovers. Not surprisingly, they've gone 0-3 in those games. Against the rest of the league, they're plus-34. The Packers are 12-4 in those matchups.

The turnovers were vital on Sunday.

Early in the second quarter, rookie Lacy was stopped, held up and stripped by Pro Bowler NaVorro Bowman. San Francisco took possession at the Packers' 14 and parlayed that into a disputed touchdown when the officials essentially gave the 49ers an extra down.

That put Lacy on the bench for the rest of the first half, with a first-half total of five carries for 4 yards. He had nine carries for 37 yards in the second half, including three consecutive runs for 13 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Lacy's big play was a 31-yard gain on a screen on the Packers' first scoring drive.

"He had a horrendous start," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I pulled him out of the game and I thought he picked it up in the second half."

Finley's drop and interception, which doomed a promising second-quarter drive, brought back memories of Finley's drop-filled 2011 and first half of 2012. Because of Finley's inconsistent play in the past, quarterback Aaron Rodgers tended to lose patience and look elsewhere in the passing game. Not so on Sunday, though.

"I went right to Jermichael and said, ‘Hey, I'm going to keep coming to you. You're getting the ball,' and he responded," Rodgers said.

When the Packers' offense returned to the field, Rodgers went immediately to Finley for a gain of 13. Rodgers went back to Finley on the final play of the drive, with Finley catching a short pass, breaking a tackle and running the final 11 yards for the tying touchdown.

"I had to make up for the interception," Finley said. "It was my fault. I had to get in the end zone to make up for the interception."

During McCarthy's tenure, turnovers are everything. They're 56-6 (.903 winning percentage) when they win the turnover battle but 8-24 (.250) when they lose that statistic. In the games against San Francisco, the Packers were minus-2 on Sunday (two giveaways, no takeaways), minus-1 in the playoff game (two giveaways, one takeaway) and minus-1 in Week 1 of last season (one giveaway, no takeaways).

On the other side of the ball, Green Bay, other than Tramon Williams just missing a potential pick-six on the Niners' first possession, never got close to producing a takeaway. The 49ers have a league-low 13 interceptions and 26 giveaways since the start of the 2011 season. They're 21-2-1 when winning the turnover battle under coach Jim Harbaugh.

Under McCarthy, the Packers have forced 222 turnovers in 113 games, an average of 1.96 per game. That rises to 2.05 per game since Dom Capers took over as defensive coordinator in 2009. The Packers are 1-14 under McCarthy when they failed to produce a turnover.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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