As much as the first half was one to forget for the New England Patriots Sunday Night, the second half was nearly one to remember in a wild and sloppy, 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
"Obviously we just didn’t do anything well enough to win," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "It starts with me – didn’t do a good job of coaching, didn’t coach well, we didn’t play well, we weren’t good on offense, weren’t good on defense, weren’t good enough on special teams. They just did a better job than we did. We just have to perform better than that. We didn’t so that’s the result. We just didn’t do a good job, it’s as simple as that."
San Francisco (10-3-1) built a 31-3 lead in the third quarter; sending Patriots fans home in droves early but those who stayed for the finish nearly witnessed a record comeback. After a sloppy and disappointing first half, New England (10-4) found its rhythm on offense, scoring 28 straight points on two Danny Woodhead touchdowns, a Tom Brady touchdown run and a five-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Aaron Hernandez.
But the 49ers responded on the ensuing kick-off with a 62-yard return by rookie LaMichael James followed by a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick to receiver Michael Crabtree. The score was Crabtree's second and Kaepernick's fourth touchdowns of the game, giving San Francisco a 38-31 lead over the Patriots in the fourth quarter.
With a regained lead, the 49ers' defense rose to the occasion, stopping Tom Brady and the Patriots offense in the critical stages of Sunday's game.
Brady finished the game 36-of-65 for 443 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Brandon Lloyd had a breakout game for the Patriots, hauling in 10 receptions for 190 yards, including a 53-yard reception and Aaron Hernandez caught 10 passes for 92 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Kaepernick finished 14-of-25 for 216 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Crabtree caught two touchdown passes and old friend Randy Moss hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to give San Francisco a 7-0 lead.
The 49ers clinched a playoff berth with Sunday night's win while the Patriots fell to third place in the AFC playoff seeding with the loss. The Patriots are currently a game behind the Denver Broncos (11-3) in the race for the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye in the playoffs.
New England travels to Jacksonville next week to take on the 2-12 Jaguars at 1 p.m.
The following game notes are courtesy of the Patriots Media Relations Department:
WELKER BECOMES FIRST NFL PLAYER WITH FIVE SEASONS WITH 100 RECEPTIONS
Wes Welker had five receptions for 56 yards tonight, giving him 100 receptions this season and making him the first player in NFL history to have five 100-catch season.
PATRIOTS COMEBACK BID FALLS SHORT
New England nearly equaled the greatest comeback in NFL history tonight, as only one time in league history has a team rallied to win a regular season game in which they trailed by 28 points. The Patriots faced a 31-3 deficit following a 27-yard scoring reception by San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree with 10:21 remaining in the third quarter. The Patriots proceeded to score touchdowns on four straight possessions to tie the game at 31, but San Francisco regained the momentum and held on for a 41-34 win. The only time in NFL history that a team has won a game in which they trailed by 28 points was on December 7, 1980, when the 49ers trailed the New Orleans Saints 35-7 at halftime and came back for a 38-35 win. In the playoffs, the largest-ever comeback was on January 3, 1993, when the Buffalo Bills trailed Houston by 32 points (35-3) and rallied for a 38-35 win.
PATRIOTS SCORE MOST AGAINST NINERS SINCE 2010
The Patriots scored 34 points against the 49ers tonight, marking the highest point total by any team against San Francisco since December 16, 2010, when San Diego also put up 34 points on the Niners. San Francisco entered tonight’s game allowing an NFL-low 14.2 points per game, while the Patriots entered the contest scoring an NFL-best 36.3 points per game.
BRADY REACHES 4,000 YARDS FOR FIFTH TIME IN HIS CAREER
Tom Brady reached 4,000 yards for the fifth time in his career. He joins Dan Marino (6), Brett Favre (6), Drew Brees (7) and Peyton Manning (12) as the only players to have at least five seasons with 4,000 passing yards. Brady had 4,110 yards in 2005, 4,806 in 2007, 4,398 in 2009 and 5,235 in 2011. Through 14 games this season, Brady has 4,276 passing yards.
BRADY’S 443 YARDS ARE 2D HIGHEST TOTAL OF HIS CAREER; SECOND MOST IN TEAM HISTORY
Tom Brady threw for 443 yards tonight, marking the second highest single-game yardage total of his career. The only game in which Brady threw for more yards was on Sept. 12, 2011, when he had 517 yards in a win at Miami. Tonight’s game marked the fourth time in Brady’s career that he has eclipsed the 400-yard mark.
BRADY’S 65 ATTEMPTS ARE A CAREER HIGH; SECOND MOST IN TEAM HISTORY
Tom Brady’s 65 passing attempts are a career high, topping his 58 pass attempts at Seattle on Oct. 14, 2012. Brady’s 65 attempts are the most in franchise history in a non-overtime game and are the most in team history in any game, trailing only Drew Bledsoe’s 70 attempts in an overtime win against Minnesota on Nov. 13, 1994.Brady’s 65 pass attempts are the seventh most in NFL history and the most since Brian Griese had 67 for Tampa Bay at Chicago on Sept. 21, 2008 in overtime. It is the most in a non-overtime NFL game since Dec. 24, 2000 when the Jets Vinny Testaverde attempted 69 passes at Baltimore.
LLOYD SETS CAREER HIGH WITH 190 YARDS
Brandon Lloyd set a career high with 190 receiving yards, the highest single-game total of his career. Lloyd’s previous career high was 169 yards, which he achieved twice in 2010. Lloyd’s 10 catches tonight were the second highest single-game total of his career, trailing only his 11 receptions at Tennessee on Oct. 3, 2010.
HERNANDEZ SETS A CAREER HIGH WITH 10 RECEPTIONS
TE Aaron Hernandez set a career high with 10 receptions. His previous best was 9 receptions at Denver on Dec. 18, 2011. Hernandez has had 8 receptions or more in three straight games.
PATRIOTS HAVE TWO PLAYERS WITH 10 RECEPTIONS’
Brandon Lloyd had 10 receptions for 190 yards and Aaron Hernandez had 10 receptions for 92 yards. It is the first time the Patriots had two players finish with 10 receptions in the same game since Randy Moss and Wes Welker each had 12 receptions vs. Buffalo on September 14, 2009.
MCCOURTY HAS THIRD PICK IN THE END ZONE
Devin McCourty picked off Colin Kapernick in the end zone in the third quarter. It was his third pick in the end zone this season. McCourty picked off Matt Schaub vs. Houston on Dec. 10 in the first quarter. McCourty picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone in the fourth quarter vs. Buffalo on Nov. 11. It is the fourth time in 2012 that the Patriots have intercepted a pass in the end zone. Rookie Tavon Wilson had an interception in the end zone at Tennessee on Sept. 9 in second quarter.
PATRIOTS OFFENSE PUTTING UP HISTORIC SEASON
The Patriots have scored 506 points through 14 games this season and are on pace to score 578 points this season. The NFL record for most points in a season is 589, achieved by the 2007 Patriots.
PATRIOTS ALL ALONE IN 500 POINT CLUB
The Patriots are the first franchise in NFL history to score 500 or more points in four seasons (2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012). St. Louis is the only other team to have done it three times (1999, 2000, 2001).
The Patriots join the 1999-01 Rams as the only teams to have scored 500 or more points in three straight years. Bill Belichick is the first head coach in NFL history to lead a team to three straight 500-point seasons.
PATRIOTS CLINCH FINISHING THE YEAR WITH AT LEAST 30 POINTS PER GAME
The Patriots will finish the 2012 season with at least 30 points per game, joining the 1999-01 Rams, the 1949-51 Rams, and the 1941-43 Bears as the only teams to average at least 30 PPG in three straight years. Bill Belichick is the first head coach in NFL history to lead a team to three straight years of at least 30 PPG. Even if the Patriots do not score in their final two games, they will finish the year averaging more than 30 points per game.
BRADY REACHES 30 TOUCHDOWNS….AGAIN
Tom Brady reached 30 touchdowns on the season with a 5-yard touchdown pass to TE Aaron Hernandez in the fourth quarter. It is his third straight 30-touchdown season after finishing with 39 in 2011 and 36 in 2010. It is his fourth season overall with 30 touchdowns (50 in 2007, 36 in 2010 and 39 in 2011). He is the fourth quarterback in NFL history to have 30 or more touchdown passes in at least four seasons and the third quarterback in NFL history with three or more straight seasons with 30 or more touchdowns.
BRADY REACHES 30 TOUCHDOWNS FOR THE THIRD STRAIGHT SEASON
Brady reached 30 touchdowns and become the third quarterback in NFL history with at least three or more consecutive seasons with 30 or more touchdowns.
PATRIOTS SCORE ON THE GROUND
After scoring three times on the ground tonight, the Patriots lead the NFL with 23 rushing touchdowns in 2012. The 23 rushing touchdowns ties the 1981 team and trails just the 1976 team with 24 and the 30 by the 1978 team. The last time the Patriots had 25 or more rushing touchdowns in a season was 1978, when they scored a franchise-record 30 times on the ground. The NFL record for most rushing touchdowns in a season is 36, by Green Bay in 1962.
WELKER EXTENDS STREAK TO 108 CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH AT LEAST ONE RECEPTION
Wes Welker extended his streak to 108 straight regular season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins. He has a streak of 91 straight regular-season games with at least one reception as a member of the Patriots to extend his franchise record. Welker has caught at least one pass in each of his 98 games with the Patriots, including seven postseason games. The last time that Welker did not catch a pass in a game was December 24, 2005 when he was with Miami. He is one of 39 NFL players to have a streak of at least 100 games with one reception.
BRADY SETS CAREER HIGH WITH HIS FOURTH RUSHING TOUCHDOWN OF THE YEAR
Tom Brady scored on a fourth down run from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter for his career-high fourth rushing touchdown of the season. His previous best was in 2011 when he had three rushing touchdowns. Brady has converted 42 straight fourth-and-1 conversions.
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN PASS CONTINUES FOR BRADY
Tom Brady has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 46 straight regular season games following a 5-yard touchdown pass to TE Aaron Hernandez in the fourth quarter. It is the third longest streak, behind Drew Brees at 54 and Johnny Unitas (47) (1956-60) and the longest current streak in the NFL. Brady’s current streak started when he threw a touchdown pass in all 16 games in 2010 and 2011 and now the first nine games of 2012. The old team record was 19 games, also set by Brady.
MICAHEL HOOMANAWANUI HAS CAREER-LONG 41-YARD RECEPTION
TE Michael Hoomanawanui had a career-long with a 41-yard reception in the third quarter. His previous best was a 36-yard reception on Nov. 28, 2010 at Denver when he played for St. Louis
PATRIOTS FORCE TURNOVERS
With an interception tonight, the Patriots have forced a turnover in 25 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 14 games of 2012. Against San Francisco, S Steve Gregory forced TE Delanie Walker to fumble deep in New England territory in the first quarter anf the ball was recovered by CB Aqib Talib. The last team to have at least one forced turnover in all 16 regular season games was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons. The streak of 25 straight games with a turnover is the longest streak for the Patriots since going 30 straight games with at least one takeaway from 1986 to 1988.
BELICHICK HAS MOST POINTS PER GAME IN NFL HISTORY
In Bill Belichick’s head coaching career, his teams have scored an average of 24.6 points per game. Such a total is the highest in NFL history among head coaches who have coached 200 or more games as a head coach.
LOSS BREAKS STRING OF 21 STRAIGHT SECOND-HALF WINS
The Patriots are now 5-1 in the second half of the 2012 regular season (games 9-16). Tonight’s loss broke a string of 21 straight second-half wins for the Patriots. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the regular season. The last time the Patriots lost a game in the second half of the regular season was in the 2009 regular-season finale, a 34-27 loss at Houston on Jan. 3, 2010.
PATRIOTS LOSE HOME GAME IN DECEMBER FOR FIRST TIME IN NEARLY 10 YEARS
The Patriots lost a December game at Gillette Stadium for just the second time since the facility opened in 2002. The Patriots are now 21-2 at home in December in the NFL since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. Prior to tonight’s game, the Patriots had won 20 straight at home in December. The only other time the Patriots have lost a game at Gillette Stadium in December was a 30-17 defeat to the New York Jets on Dec. 22, 2002.
PATRIOTS GO OVER 30 POINTS FOR 10TH TIME IN 2012; PATRIOTS TIED NFL RECORD FOR MOST 30-POINT GAMES IN A SINGLE SEASON IN 2011
The New England Patriots scored 34 points tonight for their 10th game in 2012 with 30 or more points. The Patriots scored 30 points 12 times in 2011 to tie the NFL record for most 30-point games in a single season. The 2007 Patriots and the 1999 St. Louis Rams also had 12 30 point games. The NFL record for most consecutive 30-point games in a single season is eight by the 2007 and 2010 Patriots and the 2000 St. Louis Rams.
BRADY HAS HIS 53RD 300-YARD GAME TO PAST KURT WARNER FOR FIFTH PLACE FOR MOST 300-YARD GAMES
Tom Brady had his 53rd career 300-yard game after finishing with 443 yards against the 49ers to move out of a tie with Kurt Warner for fifth place all-time with 53 career 300-yard games.
BRADY HAS EIGHTH 300-YARD GAME OF THE SEASON
Brady had his eighth 300-yard game of the 2012 season with443 yards against the 49ers. In 2011, Brady had a personal best 11 300 yard games. The NFL record for most 300-yard games in a season is 13 by Drew Brees (2011).
PATRIOTS OFFENSE ON PACE TO SET THE NFL RECORD FOR FIRST DOWNS IN A SEASON
The Patriots have 393 first downs through 11 games this season, giving them an average of 28 per game and a pace to finish the year with 449, which would smash the NFL record of 416 total first downs by New Orleans in 2011. The Patriots’ 399 first downs in 2011 are second all-time in NFL history.