It was a battle between the top offense and top defense in the NFL. Coming into this primetime Sunday night game, the New England Patriots were viewed as the favorite after demolishing the Houston Texans last week. Despite sporting the top defense in the league and an electrifying young quarterback in Colin Kaepernick under center, the San Francisco 49ers were the underdogs heading into Foxboro in December. In a wild game between two elite teams, the 49ers came out on top with a 41-34 victory despite blowing a 28-point lead.
With plenty of crazy turnovers due to wet conditions, the 49ers seemingly had the game in hand after doing everything right on both offense and defense. From an early touchdown pass by Kaepernick to Randy Moss to a successful fake punt play on fourth-and-10, San Francisco had everything going their way despite missing out on many opportunities for more points.
The Patriots did not help their cause in the first half on offense, as Stevan Ridley turned over the ball twice and Tom Brady struggled to find receivers. Nevertheless, even with the score seemingly out of hand, New England surged in the second half, made big stops on defense and found a way to tie the game up at 31.
After blowing their big lead, the 49ers avoided disaster and disappointment thanks to a big kickoff return by rookie LaMichael James, which set up another touchdown by Michael Crabtree. One big fourth-down stop later by the 49ers defense and the team could now breathe a sigh of relief. In review, San Francisco had a few unsung heroes on defense, including Carlos Rogers, who defended slot receiver Wes Welker well for most of the game, and Ricky Jean-Francois, who filled in well for the injured Justin Smith in the second half.
With this victory, the 49ers are now guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and a chance at possibly making it to the Super Bowl this season. After their excellent offensive performance in the first half and near implosion in the second half, it is difficult to predict how well they’ll fair in the playoffs. In the Sunday night football slot once again next week, this time against the Seattle Seahawks, that game will likely determine the winner of the NFC West and the right to host at least one playoff game.
Austin Chang is a Writer for Sports Out West and a San Francisco Bay Area-based sports journalist. His work can also be found on Yahoo! Sports and Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @_austinchang.
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