Last Saturday I attended my first NFL playoff game. It was also my first road Packers game and the first time I have entered Candlestick Park as an enemy in foreign territory (previously, I have attended with fellow 49er fans and cheered for the home team).
All week, I was on pins and needles in anticipation of the game. I played it out over and over in my head, considering all of the possible outcomes. After a whole week and thousands of thought-out scenarios, I expected a very close game. After all, the Niners were at home and had a great defense, while the Packers had Aaron Rodgers returning home to Northern California, facing the team that passed him up with the first pick of the 2005 draft.
On the fourth play of the game, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick threw an interception to Packers CB Sam Shields, who returned it all the way for a touchdown. Best. Case. Scenario. Not even in my wildest dreams could I have hoped for this, let alone predicted it. Not only did the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who had yet to take the field, but they were also going to get the ball after halftime. Now, they also had a quick 7-0 lead and all the momentum a road team could have in a playoff game after four playoffs. What could possibly go wrong from here?
Let me take this moment to explain exactly what could (and did) go wrong.
During each timeout / before every kickoff, the sound person (i.e. person who plays music) at Candlestick usually plays various hip-hop songs to get the crowd and the players pumped up. Such jams include Clyde Carson’s “Slow Down”, Future’s “Tony Montana”, and 2 Chainz’s “I’m Different”. During the first timeout, instead of playing “Slow Down” over the PA, Clyde Carson himself walked out of a tunnel, stepped onto one of the dugouts (Candlestick Park used to also host San Francisco Giants baseball games) and performed live for the crowd! Pretty cool. Nice touch. Well played, 49ers.
On the following drive, the 49ers tied the game on a 9-play, 80-yard trek, finished off by a Kaepernick 20-yard rushing touchdown. No big deal. It was a tie game, but Aaron Rodgers had yet to play a snap. I was not worried.
Just then, prior to the ensuing kickoff, another hip-hop artist stepped onto the dugout. Performing his hit song “I’m Different” was none other than 2 Chainz. MOTHER-EFFING 2 CHAINZ!!! Needless to say, the Candlestick crowd went bonkers. I’ve never seen so many football fans dancing at one time in my life.
Following the first 2 Chainz appearance, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers on a go-ahead 7-play, 80-yard drive for a 14-7 advantage. This ‘answer’ by Rodgers only further establishes him as the greatest QB in the NFL. Not only was he answering the 49ers’ scoring drive, he was answering 2 Chainz. Words can’t begin to describe how impressive of a feat this is, but perhaps the rest of my account of that game will help.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past year, 2 Chainz is a tough act to top. This became evident as another 2 Chainz appearance was followed by a muffed punt by the Packers, which turned into an easy 49ers touchdown.
Later in the game, 2 Chainz made another appearance and the 49ers took the lead. The more 2 Chainz performed, the more momentum the 49ers seemed to get. Before I knew it, they were up 45-24 with under four minutes to go, and the game was effectively over. I spent the entire 4th quarter standing at my seat in a state of utter disappointment, being smugly congratulated on Green Bay’s ‘great season’, and watching 2 Chainz whip the crowd into an absolute frenzy. It was unfair, unexpected, and not the way I wanted the Packers’ season to end. I’m going to see 2 Chainz dancing on that dugout screaming “NINERS!” in my nightmares.
Colin Kaepernick will get a lot of credit for the win, and deservedly so. The Packer defense will take a lot of grief for the loss, and deservedly so. Yet, in my mind, the real difference maker that night was 2 Chainz.
(See next page for NFC Championship game prediction)