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.
Greg and Chris talk with Mike Reiss from ESPN Boston in hour 2 of NFL Sunday to discuss a variety of offseason happenings with the Pats and throughout the league. Greg and Chris also get into the NFL Draft and where Mariota and Winston will go.
Mike Reiss calls the guys to talk about the offseason news for the Pats. He talks about the Pats/Jets tampoering fiasco, free agency, where he sees Ridley and Connolly ending up, if the Patriots would be interested in Reggie Wayne and more.
In the first hour of the show, Greg and Chris discuss the news coming out of the owners' meetings this week and rule changes. Belichick's blow-up over the league not wanting to spend on endzone cameras was well documented and the guys react. They also talk about the Jets ridiculous tampering charges, free agents still lingering out there, where Stevan Ridley will land and the RB position in New England. Dickerson and Price briefly discuss the adventures of Tom Brady before being joined by WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia to talk all things Pats in the offseason.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
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.
Joe and Alex talked with the Sox AGM about the state of the team as Opening Day approaches.
Mut, Tomase, and Bradford kick things off talking about Shane Victorino taking offense to people reading into some comments he made about trading for Cole Hamels. They also discuss Blake Swihart and how soon he could be up if Christian Vazquez starts the season on the DL.
Joe Kelly joined the Hot Stove show where he talked about being ready for his next spring training start after a biceps ailment forced him out of his last outing, he talks about his NCAA brackets and how teammate Wade Miley has a perfect bracket still.
Peter Chiarelli joined the Sunday Skate crew to talk about the Bruins playoff push heading into the final handful of games of the regular season. Chiarelli talked about avoiding some of the overly negative feedback he gets while realizing that the team does have real issues. He discusses what went down at the trade deadline and if he was happy with the outcome, Lucic having a down year and underperforming, the salary cap and if he considers it as big of an issue as it's been made out to be and what the future holds for the team.
It's a big hour #2 for the Sunday Skate dudes - they talk about the B's defenseman and what the future looks like at that position, with both moves the team can make and younger guys in the AHL. They also get into the Bruins philosophy on bringing guys up and sending them back down and how players deal with that. Finally, the boys are joined by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to discuss EVERYTHING.
The Sunday Skate crew gets the show going discussing the Bruins big, impressive victory over the NY Rangers yesterday. What can you take from that game? According to LB - Lyndon Byers - who called the guys from the road, not a lot. LB drops a dime on what was going on with the Rangers yesterday. DJ and Joe discuss Claude's lines and groupings and the importance of Ryan Spooner. They also get into Lucic, his contributions this year and if he can turn things around.
A caller strongly disagreed with Callahan on Indiana's RFRA law.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys opened the show by discussing the latest news on Boston 2024.
Ryan Spooner joined the show to talk about the B's turning it around as of late, how he lost the fear to make a mistake, the chemistry he's experiencing with the other young players, and more.
Since it's April Fools day, it would make sense to have Christian prank call a friend about his gun ownership.
The picked up an important win last night over the Panthers, keeping ahead of Ottawa for the 8th seed. Andy Brickley called the game last night for NESN and talks about Tuukka's performance and some other items he picked up.
Given the scope of Aaron Hernandez' admitted marijuana use that's come out of this trial, a big debate is "sparked" about how a pro athlete can possibly compete at this level with their lungs and senses impaired to such a degree... or are they impaired at all in the first place? The giant free-for-all hempfest is here.
Dale, Michael and Jerry discuss the Sox and perhaps their biggest hole in this line-up.
We wrap up the day with the best in sound that you may have missed throughout the day.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Mut opens his show talking about the New York Jets filing tampering charges on the Patriots
Mikey, Mut, and Lucy are talking about all things New England sports, the Red Sox spring training, more Darrelle Revis and Jets talk, and some Bruins mixed in.
Kirk Minihane joins the show to talk about the Celtics and their chances in the playoffs and how to continue the rebuild. Michael Holley also challenges Minihane to a game of one on one.
Will Noonan joins Chris in the studio to review Wrestlemania and Raw.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about Kirk's massage and crap all over Sausage.
We listen in on Adam Shefter's deflategate report on NFL Live on ESPN, and discuss when we can expect this whole mess to come to a head.More from this show
The guys discussed the controversial Indiana law.More from this show
With the Wells report seemingly wrapping up (we hope), Tim and Lou got to talking about possible fines and punishments the Patriots must face. It's possible that the Patriots will face a small fine, but should they take that laying down? The conversation brings out a little passion from BOTH sides.More from this show