by Hal Bent, BostonSportPage.com
The less said about the Patriots loss to the 49ers, the better. The Patriots came out with their absolute worst performance of the season, losing their third game of the season to the NFC West. All three phases of the game were abysmal, as the Patriots were
beaten soundly on offense, defense and special teams. They trailed 31 to 3 in the early third quarter and were a total mess from the onset.
The game started with running back Steven Ridley fumbling (which was overturned by review) and then getting stuffed on 3rd and 1. Punt. 49ers march down the field (coverage switched to the President speaking about the horrible tragedy in Newtown, CT, which was more important than the game--I was surprised that the NFL didn't stop the game and broadcast the President on the big screen) and Randy Moss catches a touchdown burning the "new and improved" secondary.
After trading punts, the turnovers began: Brady intercepted trying to throw deep to Welker, and then San Francisco fumbles. It's still a game, when the first special teams failure mistake rears its head: fake punt by the 49ers which led to a missed field goal and another opportunity for the Patriots to miss out on. After running back Shane Vereen coughed up the ball, the 49ers offense continued to shoot themselves in the foot and allowed the Patriots to kick a field goal and stay in the game. San Francisco scored twice (TD pass to tight end Delanie Walker and field goal) and it was only 17 to 3 at the half.
When safety Devin McCourty picked off 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the end zone, it appeared the Patriots were ready to make their move. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong direction. A fumble by running back Steven Ridley and an interception by quarterback Tom Brady turned into two quick scores for San Francisco and it was 31 to 3.
Yes, the Patriots came back and tied the score while San Francisco took their foot off the pedal and Brady got into rhythm, but when they needed it most in the clutch, all three areas of the game blew it again. First a special teams breakdown allowed a long kick off return to completely turn momentum. Then, an all-out blitz failed to get to Kaepernick, horrible cornerback Kyle Arrington missed a tackle, and the Patriots were back in a hole. The offense had two shots to tie, and shot themselves in the foot each time.
To say the game was frustrating is an understatement. To say it was encouraging to see the team come back and it's a "good loss" is delusional. The team threw their helmets out on the field and thought they were invincible. They got smacked across the face, just like they did int he Super Bowl last year and in 2007. It's tough watching a team that made its bones in 2001, 2003 and 2004 by being the "Smackers" now being the "Smackees". The team got beat up, snuck back in, and then got gobsmacked when the game called for toughness. This team needs to get into playoff mode ASAP. Last Sunday night was a playoff game, and the Patriots got knocked-out.
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