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.
As a result, the Patriots saw their winning streak snapped at seven games and fell to 10-4 on the season. They dropped into the No. 3 spot in the AFC playoff picture behind No. 1 Houston and No. 2 Denver.
The Patriots lost for the first time in the second half of the season since losing at Houston on Jan. 3, 2010. The Patriots also lost the turnover battle for the first time this season and for the first time in 22 games, as Tom Brady was intercepted twice while the running backs lost two fumbles. Brady finished 36-of-65 for 443 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 68.9.
The Patriots started the game with the ball but were forced to punt, one of three three-and-outs for New England in the first half. The Niners drove 63 yards in six plays, capped off by a 24-yard TD pass from Kaepernick to Randy Moss down the left seam, in which the former Patriots receiver beat Alfonzo Dennard. The Patriots were 0-for-7 on third down in the first half and were held without a touchdown in the first half for the first time since Week 2 against the Cardinals.
Brady had one of the roughest halves of his season, completing 10-of-19 passes for 76 yards and an interception. His quarterback rating at the half was 40.7.
Up 7-0, the Niners had several chances to put the game out of reach in a 10-minute span in the first half but failed to put any points as the Patriots forced a turnover, the Niners missed a 39-yard field goal, and fumbled away another possession.
The Patriots could only muster a Stephen Gostkowski field goal in the first half. The Niners made it 14-3 when Kaepernick found a wide open Delanie Walker from 34 yards out down the right sideline. San Francisco drove to the Patriots' 4-yard-line before settling for a David Akers 20-yard field goal at the halftime gun, giving the Niners a 17-3 lead.
The Patriots got the ball to open the second half and couldn't move it, forced again to punt. The Niners drove the ball to the Patriots 33 when Devin McCourty intercepted Kaepernick in the end zone. The Patriots responded with a drive deep into San Francisco territory. But Stevan Ridley -- who had a fumble nullified in the first quarter when he was down by contact -- fumbled as Donte Whitner forced the ball loose and Dashon Goldson returned it 66 yards to the Patriots' 4-yard-line. Frank Gore ran it in on the next play for a touchdown.
On the next series, Brady's pass intended for Aaron Hernandez was picked off by Aldon Smith. On the next play, Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree over the middle from 27 yards to put the Niners up, 31-3, with 10:21 left in the third quarter.
The Patriots then began their furious comeback. The Patriots drove 73 yards in 13 plays, capped off by a Danny Woodhead 6-yard run to make it 31-10 with 5:59 left in the third. Brady's 1-yard run on 4th and goal made it 31-17 on the first play of the fourth quarter. After a 38-yard pass interference call on Tarell Brown set up the Patriots at the Niners' 5-yard line, Brady hit Hernandez on an out pattern to bring the Patriots within one score. The Patriots finished their comeback with Woodhead's second TD run, a one-yard run with 6:45 left.
But San Francisco answered immediately with a LaMichael James kickoff return of 62 yards to the New England 38. On the next play, Kaepernick found a wide open Crabtree for a touchdown down the left sideline that gave the Niners the lead after 28 straight points by New England. Instead of punting, the Patriots failed on fourth-and-1 at their 12 with just over two minutes left as Brady's pass to Woodhead fell incomplete. Akers hit a 28-yard field goal with 1:56 left to give San Francisco a 10-point lead.
The Patriots hit the road next Sunday for a game against the 2-12 Jaguars before finishing the regular season on Dec. 30 at Gillette against the Dolphins. For more coverage from Chris Price and Mike Petraglia, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots and the blog It Is What It Is.
We check in on the Patriots off-season with ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss. Mike updates us on Revis, McCourty, Wilfork and more.
Price calls Butch to discuss the March 2nd deadline for franchise tags, free agency and the Pats' plans going forward.
Shortly after the NFLRA released its statement demanding an apology from ESPN, Jim Quirk, the NFLRA's Executive Director, joined Mut to talk about the statement
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Jessica Camerato of basketballinsiders.com joins the show to talk about Marcus Smart, the starting lineup, and trade deadline.
The one and only Rob Bradford calls Butch to discuss his early thoughts on this Red Sox team, the potential in the rotation, how the outfield will shake out and more.
David Ortiz takes a few minutes to talk with Mut, Bradford, and Tomase about some of his new teammates, who Pablo Sandoval reminds him of, and the rules aimed at speeding up the game of baseball.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are talking Red Sox spring training. and talk with Red Sox DH David Ortiz about the rules aimed at speeding up the pace of the game
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Another edition of Sunday Skate is upon us and DJ and Joe get into the B's big win over Arizona last night and the improvement of Ryan Spooner. They get into the Blackhawks giving up a 1st round pick for C Antoine Vermette - someone the B's could certainly use but weren't willing to give up the steep price of a 1st rounder. DJ and Joe also get into Claude's willingness to switch up lines as well as the performance of the 3rd and 4th lines. Finally, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sits down with the boys.
Scott Burnside joins the boys to discuss the Bruins and the NHL trade deadline.
A look back at Dennis and Callahan's 2015 trip to spring training. They visited with Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington, Xander Bogaerts, John Farrell, Mookie Betts, Joe Kelly, Curt Schilling and Dustin Pedroia.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk are joined by Rob Bradford, Gordon Edes and Steve Buckley to forecast the 2015 campaign.
Pedroia joins the guys in Fort Myers to look at the upcoming season and his health entering the spring.
Brick joined the show to talk about the couple players that the B's added. He noted that the lack of subtractions means that the front office trusts the core group.
The Red Sox entire team wore the number 3 to honor Pete Frates. The HS team that was suspended for trying to bring awareness to breast cancer have been allowed to play. Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley are bad at karaoke, but not as bad as Joey and Christian.
With the Patriots focusing on CB Darrelle Revis, it's likely that the team will lose safety Devin McCourty or Brandon Browner. Or both.
We talk Boston Bruins with NESN's Jack Edwards, our first talk since the NHL trade deadline.
Jerry discusses the plus and minus' of the Patriots first (of many) Super Bowl DVD's
Dale and Michael briefly discuss the opening of the Marathon Bombing Trial, and how the 'Free Dhzokar' crowd will have to get a new hobby.
Mikey, Mut, and Lenny are joined by the Rev girls, who are revealing the New Revolution uniform Tuesday at the House of Blues in Boston and talking about the Revs.
Mikey, Lenny, and Maggie talk Red Sox baseball with Red Sox Hall of Famer Bill Lee, who is in Florida and out of the snow that's perpetually burying the area.
Mikey gets a call from Kirk Minihane, who wants to clear the air with Mikey and get everything settled. It goes better than you think.
Adam Himmelsbach, Celtics beat reporter for the Boston Globe, joins the show to share his love of the Brow and discuss the surging Celtics playoff chances. Then we take a field trip to the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference and analyze the data with Rick Friedman.
Chris and comedian Will Noonan discuss the events of last night's Raw.
WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin previews the opening round of the Hockey East tournament with Northeastern coach Jim Madigan and Mike McMahon of College Hockey News and The Mack Report.
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