Niners Outlast Pats Second-Half Push; Are they Super Bowl Favorites?
If you missed Sunday night’s heart-pounding thriller, then chances are you missed out on a Super Bowl preview.
It was a tale of two halves in Foxboro, as the San Francisco 49ers endured a sprightly 28-point comeback from the New England Patriots to win 41-34.
The game started in an offensive onslaught that saw the Niners come out to a commanding 31-3 lead that spilled over into the third quarter. And it was then that we saw San Francisco at its best.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick came out gunning, connecting on a 24-yard pass and catch to Randy Moss in the first quarter. He then led the Niners down the field on the next drive with a lengthy pass to the edge of the end zone to tight end Delanie Walker to push the lead to 14-3.
Meanwhile, New England looked lost in the first half of the game after being held to a season-low three points. Quarterback Tom Brady threw one interception and the Pats coughed the ball up twice, which gave the Niners ridiculously good field position, one of which was capped by a David Akers field goal.
The Niners continued their offensive onslaught in the third quarter when running back Frank Gore ran in for a 5-yard touchdown on a misplayed hand off. The following drive saw San Francisco connecting on a lengthy pass and catch to Michael Crabtree in which he slipped past two defenders and rolled into the end zone.
Then, Brady couldn’t take it anymore. The Golden Boy torched the Niners defense in the last third of the game, leading the Pats to four straight touchdowns, which was capped by a Danny Woodhead 6-yard run that knotted the game at 31-apiece.
In the final six minutes of the game, Kaepernick went to his prime target in Crabtree on the first play of the drive, and boy did he deliver. The 25-year-old wideout caught the low pass at his feet, switched directions on his defender and ran 30 yards downfield to the end zone to put the Niners back in front.
On the ensuing drive, the Niners defense stiffened up and forced Brady into a do-or-die fourth-and-2. Brady dropped back in pass protection, hesitated on a pass fake and overthrew wide receiver Wes Welker to put the game out of reach for the Patriots.
The win solidified the NFC-West crown for the Niners and a playoff spot. Moreover, the team remains the frontrunners in maintaining a first-round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs. But seeing San Francisco outlast the No. 1 offense in the league makes them not only a powerhouse in the crowded West, but instant favorites for the Super Bowl title.