When the Patriots failed to convert a fourth-and-1 from their own 12-yard line with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter on Sunday night against the 49ers, the game essentially was over and the chances at a top two seed and first-round bye in the AFC playoffs were in serious jeopardy.



KIRK MINIHANE

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The Jets announced on Tuesday that they will start quarterback Greg McElroy over Mark Sanchez on Sunday against the Chargers. 

McElroy played in relief for the struggling Sanchez on Dec. 2, leading the Jets to a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals after Sanchez threw three interceptions. The team elected to start Sanchez in the next two games (1-1), and his four-interception performance Monday against the Titans led to a loss that dropped the Jets to 6-8 and eliminated them from playoff contention. 

Tell Ryan Mallett to loosen up his arm, and get Jake Bequette, James Develin and Mike Rivera ready for some serious snaps. If you’re the Patriots, it’s time to do whatever it takes to create an easier postseason path between now and New Orleans -- and that might include losing.



Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday night's 41-34 loss to the 49ers. New England trailed by 28 points in the third quarter before mounting a furious rally that tied the score at 31, but the Niners regrouped and pulled out the win.

"You can say a lot of things about me as a coach, OK? I'm sure you do and so do a lot of other people. But I'm just telling you guys something -- one thing I'm not is scared. ... I'm not apologizing to anyone for being aggressive and trying to win."



KIRK MINIHANE

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FOXBORO -- If the Patriots and 49ers are the two teams left standing at the end, then we’ll remember Sunday night’s game as a terrific appetizer to what should be an amazing main course of football down the road in New Orleans.



FOXBORO -- With two timeouts and the two-minute warning still available to stop the clock, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he and his staff had absolutely no debate on whether to go for a first down on fourth-and-1 from the New England 12 with 2:24 left in the fourth quarter and the Patriots down 38-31. 

"None," was Belichick's one-word answer to whether there was any debate on the sideline. Asked to further explain, Belichick said, "It was fourth-and-[1]." 

Tom Brady agreed, adding after the game, "I didn't think about it."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, after his team's 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, faulted his team's poor execution and, in particular, its proclivity to turn over the ball in a Sunday night defeat. The Pats committed four turnovers, contributing to the team's 31-3 deficit mid-way through the third quarter.

FOXBORO -- Colin Kaepernick found Michael Crabtree on a 38-yard touchdown pass with 6:33 left in the fourth quarter to lead the 49ers past the Patriots, 41-34, Sunday night, spoiling what would have been the greatest comeback in team history. The Patriots scored 28 straight points to wipe out a 31-3 deficit with over 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

However, San Francisco responded with 10 straight points, and after a late Patriots field goal, the Niners recovered an onsides kick to seal the game. 

FOXBORO -- Former Patriots star receiver Randy Moss will start at wide receiver with receiver Mario Manningham out for the second straight week with a shoulder injury. 

Moss has caught 21 passes on 36 targets for 326 yards and two touchdowns this season. 

Moss caught San Francisco's first touchdown Sunday night on a 24-yard touchdown pass down the left seam.