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-."
Tom Brady agreed, adding after the game, "I didn't think about it."
The Patriots fought all the way back from a 31-3 deficit to tie the game with 6:43 left on Danny Woodhead's second touchdown run of the game. The 49ers responded immediately with a 62-yard kickoff return to the Patriots' 38 and a touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree to put San Francisco up by seven.
The Patriots then had to punt after failing to get a first down. New England's defense then forced a punt, but the Pats were pinned at their own 3 after a holding call on James Develin on special teams. Brady connected on a second-down pass to Brandon Lloyd for nine yards to the 12. After a incompletion to Woodhead in the left flat, Belichick and Brady decided to go for it and Brady overthrew Woodhead on fourth down, giving the Niners the ball with 2:20 left.
"We made a few of them [fourth-down conversions]," said Brady, who was 3-for-3 on fourth down in the game before that miss. "That was just bad execution."
San Francisco converted the chance into a field goal to make it a two-score game with 1:56 remaining. The Patriots finished 5-of-6 on fourth down but just 2-for-15 on third down, including 0-for-7 in the first half.
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