Saturday night's matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers marks the 72nd meeting between the two franchises. It also will be the ninth time they have met in the playoffs.
Over the past seven decades, they have played some very exciting games, including this year's regular-season contest, with the Packers holding the all-time edge, 38-32-1, although the playoff matchups have been split (4-4). Here are the five greatest.
5. Green Bay Packers 21, San Francisco 49ers 17
Nov. 19, 1989 — San Francisco
The 49ers (9-1) and Packers (5-5) were tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter. Green Bay was lined up in San Francisco's red zone when Niners safety Chet Brooks picked off Don Majkowski's pass and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown. However, linebacker Danny Stubbs was penalized for lining up in the neutral zone, negating the score. Majkowski scored on an eight-yard draw two plays later with 11:55 left in the game. San Francisco responded with a field goal, but the Packer defense that had sacked Joe Montana five times did not allow any more points. The loss would be the 49ers' last of the season, as they went on to beat the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
4. Green Bay Packers 31, San Francisco 49ers 28
Oct. 15, 2000 — Green Bay, Wis.
Both teams came into the game struggling but looked like Super Bowl contenders when they met in Week 7. Green Bay took a 21-7 lead in the third quarter, but San Francisco came back thanks to two touchdown passes by Jeff Garcia in less than six minutes. The Packers pulled ahead again with a one-yard touchdown run by Ahman Green, but the 49ers responded with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Terrell Owens to tie the game at 28-28 with 5:30 to go. Green Bay put together a four-and-a-half-minute drive that was punctuated by a 35-yard Ryan Longwell field goal that clinched the win with under a minute left.
3. Green Bay Packers 23, San Francisco 49ers 20
Oct. 14, 1996 — Green Bay, Wis.
The Packers had beaten the 49ers in the playoffs nine months earlier, and both teams only had one loss when they met on Monday Night Football. With Elvis Grbac filling in for an injured Steve Young, San Francisco took a 17-6 halftime lead, but Green Bay came back — thanks in part to 395 passing yards by Brett Favre — to tie the game 20-20 at the end of regulation. The 49ers got the ball first in overtime but went three and out. The Packers were able to move the ball and Chris Jacke booted a 53-yard field goal, his fifth of the game, to seal the win. After the game, Favre said, "The 49ers are good. I hope we don't have to play them again." They would meet again in the playoffs, with Green Bay winning 35-14 en route to a Lombardi Trophy.
2. Green Bay Packers 24, San Francisco 49ers 24
Dec. 19, 1965 — San Francisco
Vince Lombardi's Packers were 10-3 and had to beat a 7-6 49ers team to clinch the Western Conference of the pre-merger NFL. However, San Francisco had the best offense in the league and led Green Bay 17-14 early in the fourth quarter. The Packers responded with a five-yard Jim Taylor touchdown run and a 31-yard Don Chandler field goal to take a 24-17 lead with two minutes left. 49ers quarterback John Brodie tied the game with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Vern Burke 50 seconds later. Green Bay was forced to punt after three Bart Starr incompletions, and Kermit Alexander returned it 38 yards to the Packer 46-yard line with seven seconds left. In a bizarre ending, Brodie threw an incompletion, and the field goal team ran on the field, but the clock kept running, so time expired before San Francisco could attempt a field goal. If the Packers had lost, they would have lost the conference to the 10-3-1 Baltimore Colts, but the tie allowed for a playoff game for the conference title. Green Bay beat Baltimore 13-10 and then bested the Cleveland Browns 23-12 in the NFL Championship, setting up a run of three straight titles.
1. San Francisco 49ers 30, Green Bay Packers 27 (NFC Wild Card Game)
Jan. 3, 1999 — San Francisco
Green Bay had beaten San Francisco decisively for three straight years in the playoffs, but this NFC Wild Card matchup was much more competitive. The teams traded leads six times through the course of the game, and it appeared that the Packers would record a fourth consecutive victory when Brett Favre hit Antonio Freeman with a 15-yard touchdown pass with a little more than two minutes left in the game. But the 49ers responded with a drive of their own, and after surviving a botched call on a Jerry Rice fumble, Steve Young hit Terrell Owens with a dramatic 25-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in the game. The game, known as "The Catch II," was Young's last playoff win. In the offseason, the league gave coaches the option to challenge on-field rulings.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.