I'm still stunned, sitting here, halfway across the world. I was so overwhelmed when we went up 31-3. I thought we'd just demolished the consensus best team in the league. Then to watch the Patriots come back to tie it. So many clutch plays by so many players, it's hard to single them out. We won the turnover battle, Colin Kaepernick outplayed Tom Brady on a freezing New England night, and we overcame adversity to hold on to the win (after the Patriots overcame some of their own). So much went right, and 5 or so fumbled snaps went wrong. We had two one-play drives. We rarely have quick strike scores. No game will ever be perfect but this game leaves a great aftertaste.
I want to make one statement / complaint about Colin Kaepernick. I think he's the nicest guy, and am so glad Harbaugh made the switch (after initial reluctance), but after listening to his postgame press conference while writing this up, I'm afraid he comes off as standoffish to the media. He's taking on Harbaugh's attitude of us against the world, which is good in some respects, but bad if that's not who he is. He always seems to give up one-word answers and seems to be fighting his way through the interviews as though the questioners were trying to get him to give up secrets. Hopefully I'm either wrong, or right and it's for the best. Just a thought I had while writing.
With the game being a night game, there's not that much material out yet. So get some up and going in the comments if you find something interesting. Otherwise, chat about what you like.
On to the links...
Week 15: 49ers 41, Patriots 34 (Recaps)
Matt Maiocco gets the honor of writing up the main recap because, well, he posted first. What can I say? Mike Iupati and Justin Smith both suffered injuries, though Iupati returned. We'll get more word on Smith tomorrow. | Instant replay: 49ers 41, Patriots 34 (Maiocco)
Tim Kawakami raises a good point. That game was as stressful a test for a young team and quarterback as you can have without it being in the big game. We, and he (CK7) passed. We've now beat the other two best teams (GB and NE, in my opinion) on the road. Super Bowl, anyone? | 49ers survive a Super Bowl stress test with win over Patriots (Kawakami)
Lost in all the emotion of the big win was the fact that we clinched a playoff birth and rendered next weekend's game against Seattle far less meaningful in the NFC West (so long as we can beat Arizona at home). Seattle is looking brutal, but they beat up on some bad teams. | 49ers beat Patriots 41-34, clinch playoff birth (Inman)
Tom Brady set a career-high in attempts, Aldon Smith was held without a sack, leaving him tied with J.J. Watt for the league lead, and the Patriots finished the game 2 for 15 on third down. They came into the game at 52.5% on third down. | 49ers notebook: LaMIchael James delivers big kickoff return (Inman)
How about the fake punt to Dashon Goldson? How about Michael Crabtree for 7 catches, 107 yards and two touchdowns. I have been critical of Crabtree but I now officially withdraw my critiques. He now has pimp-lo-matic immunity and can do what he likes (until the playoffs!). | Turnovers fuel offense as 49ers clinch playoff birth in win over Patriots (Gin)
49ers upset Patriots, 41-34 (Branch)
49ers beat Patriots, clinch playoff birth (49ers.com)
49ers vs Patriots Analysis
Some good notes on the game from Pro Football Talk. Colin Kapernick is a natural playmaker. Though the writer thinks that New England didn't capitalize on his mistakes, and other defenses might, which is odd, as the Pats came into the game with the largest turnover differential in the league at +24. They also note that David Akers may cost us a title if he doesn't sort things out. | Sunday night wrap-up: 49ers hand on to win wild one (PFT)
A short article on the end of the game. What I don't like is league poster boy Tom Brady slamming the ball in frustration in front of the refs, as hard and angry as you'll ever see, and not getting a flag. Double standard? | In the end, did Tom Brady lose the game? (SF Gate)
BASG brings the goods, as usual. Ray McDonald had 2 sacks. Aaron Hernandez had the worst 10 reception, 92 yards and a TD game that BASG can remember. Is the Kaepernick vs Alex Smith debate finally settled? And how about the offensive line only giving up one sack in the biggest game of the year. | 49ers prove once again: When they play good teams, expect the unexpected (BASG)
Some Mike Sando notes for you. Kaepernick had 4 touchdown throws while Alex Smith has never had more than three in his career. Aldon Smith and Carlos Rogers each had INTs on Brady, who had 4 on the year. Donte Whitner's hit on Stevan Ridley was a work of art. | Rapid reaction: 49ers 41, Patriots 34 (Sando)
Brandon Lloyd's 53-yard reception on the previous untouchable Chris Culliver was the longest play given up by the defense all season. Nate Solder gets credit for holding Aldon sackless. | Postgame analysis: 49ers 41, Patriots 34 (Bonagura)
What was 49ers' play of the game? (SF Gate)
Assorted 49ers Notes
An interesting take on how the game helps the league in the wake of the Week 3 MNF debacle between the Seahawks and Packers. This apparently avoids a lot of the potential fallout. I said at the time that we'd be competing with the Packers for the No. 3 before we compete with the Seahawks for the NFC West...I was wrong...both at the same time! | Niners' win helps league office (PFT)
Justin Smith to undergo MRI on arm (Maiocco)
Game highlights: 49ers 41 - Patriots 34 (49ers.com)
Press pass: Colin Kaepernick (49ers.com)
Press pass: Jim Harbaugh (49ers.com)
That's the scoop on one of the most roller-coasterrific, exciting, heart-wrenching wins I've seen since, since January. We proved we can beat any team, any time. We've taken out the two other top-five teams we've played on the road this season. No matter where we land in the playoff seeding, we can win it all. We just have to avoid that whole W-W-L pattern.
So get some comments going, if you're not already exhausted, and follow me on Twitter. I'm shameless with the promotion, but that's what this world's all about, right?
Being a Sheep
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