How the Patriots and 49ers insane Sunday night tilt played out in real time:
8:31-It is freezing cold and pouring rain in Foxboro, godbless anyone that can sit through this at Gillette, only to get home at like 2 a.m. You are way tougher than me.
8:32-7-yard catch for Brandon Lloyd on the 1st play.
8:33-Stevan Ridley fumbles after a 2-yard gain but it looks like it happened after he was down. Luckily Ed Hochuli is the head referee tonight so this review should only take about three hours.
8:36-The Patriots retain possession but Ridley gets stuffed on 3rd and 1 for a 2-yard loss.
8:37-Colin Kaepernick completes a 10-yard pass to Michael Crabtree on 1st down.
8:38-13-yard catch for Crabtree after a wide receiver screen.
8:39-12-yard catch for Randy Moss, who got crushed between Aqib Talib and Jeord Mayo. Somehow he held on, I can never remember him making a catch like that when he played for New England.
8:39-3-yard run for Frank Gore.
8:40-Dont’a Hightower breaks up a swing pass to LaMichael James. It was close to a fumble since Hightower stripped it away from him.
8:41-Straight Cash Homey. 24-yard touchdown catch for Moss puts San Francisco up 7-0, what a drive by the 49ers.
8:44-23-yard catch by Lloyd, don’t know how he stayed inbounds there on the sideline.
8:45-Aldon Smith introduces himself to Tom Brady, knocking him down and causing an ugly incompletion.
8:46-Smith pulls Brady down on 3rd down after getting by Logan Mankins. That’s a good way to get Brady knocked out. Yikes.
8:47-Good punt by Zoltan Mesko pins San Francisco at their own 8.
8:48-4-yard run by Gore.
8:48-5-yard run by Gore.
8:49-Justin Francis beats his man and tackles Kaepernick for a 3-yard loss, the rookie quarterback fumbled but he was able to recover it. That could have been a fatal mistake.
8:50-New England is charged with holding on Wes Welker’s punt return.
8:51-Wow, Brady throws an interception on the next play to Carlos Rogers. He returned it to the 5 before Brady took him down to prevent the TD.
8:52-This is like a bad high school game, nobody can hang onto the football. It’s ruled a fumble after Delanie Walker gets hit by Steve Gregory and Talib recovers it at the 11. Seems like a break since I’m not sure that Walker made a football move. It couldn’t be reviewed by the booth.
8:54-5-yard run by Ridley.
8:55-Brady rushes a throw on 3rd down and Aaron Hernandez drops it (since it was behind him). New England can’t contain San Francisco’s defensive line at the moment.
8:59-4-yard run by James.
8:59-Haha I guess neither team has practiced with wet footballs this season. Kaepernick fumbled the snap but was lucky enough to fall on it.
9:02-Jim Harbaugh has watermelons for balls, he runs a fake punt and Dashon Goldson rumbles 31 yards for a 1st down. Insane.
9:03-4-yard run by Gore.
9:04-A miserable season for David Akers continues as he shanks a 39-yard field goal. So San Francisco didn’t score after that fake punt, big break for the Patriots. Time for New England’s offense to do something positive.
9:06-7-yard catch for Danny Woodhead.
9:07-Mankins is not himself right now, false start.
9:08-Woodhead gets crushed by Patrick Willis for a 3-yard loss on a screen pass.
9:08-Does anybody on the Patriots want to hold onto the football? Shane Vereen fumbles on his 1st touch of the game. Niners recover at the New England 34.
9:11-Kaepernick has Vernon Davis wide open for an easy TD pass but it’s too far. Rookie mistake like you read about.
9:12-Gore runs for 9 yards and his knee gets spun around awkwardly yet he’s fine. NFL players are not human beings, damn.
9:13-Gore gets stopped for no gain on the next play. It’ll be 4th and 1 when the 2nd quarter starts.
After 1 quarter: 49ers 7, Patriots 0. You couldn’t think of a worse start for the Patriots’ offense, they are very lucky to only be down seven points at the moment. San Francisco’s defense is regarded as the best in the NFL for a reason, they are really impressive.
9:16-Another fumbled snap by Kaepernick is huge since the Niners turn it over at the Patriots’ 25.
9:18-10-yard catch for Lloyd, who broke a tackle for the first time this entire season. Bravo Brandon.
9:19-Brady leads Hernandez just a bit too far, it goes off his hand.
9:19-10-yard run by Woodhead.
9:19-6-yard catch for Woodhead as Brady has turned the tempo up.
9:20-10-yard catch for Hernandez, who made Willis miss a tackle (something that never happens).
9:21-Brady tries to find Deion Branch in the end zone but it’s broken up.
9:22-3-yard catch for Hernandez, New England is going for it on 4th and 4.
9:25-The money man, 10-yard catch for Branch on 4th down.
9:26-8-yard run by Woodhead then 4-yard Woodhead gets it to the 10. 1st and Goal for the Patriots.
9:27-A cornerback blitz by Rogers pressures Brady into an incompletion.
9:28-We miss you Gronk. Brady can’t find anybody open and gets sacked by Ray McDonald. At least New England gets on the board with a 32-yard field goal. 7-3 49ers.
9:31-More shots of Brady yelling at his offensive line on the sidelines, get used to that.
9:34-Talib is called for pass interference (35-yard penalty) for not turning around when he was covering Crabtree.
9:34-8-yard run by Gore.
9:35-34-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to Dennard. The rookie cornerback thought for a second that it was going to Davis and that gave Walker enough room to get wide open in the corner of the end zone. 14-3 49ers.
9:41-4-yard run by Ridley.
9:41-Lloyd misses an easy catch right in his hands. Wes Welker hasn’t made a catch yet and I don’t think he’s been targeted.
9:42-Another pass, this one too low for Lloyd and the Patriots go 3-and-out. New England is 0-for-7 on 3rd downs tonight, that won’t work.
9:44-I can’t even explained what just happened. Ted Ginn Jr. let a punt go by him but it might have ever so slightly grazed him. The Patriots recovered but they were called for a penalty. Bill Belichick challenged the ruling. My head really hurts.
9:51-After all that, San Francisco retains possession. Gee I think that’ll be discussed on Felger and Mazz tomorrow, only Hochuli would be the ref for a play like that.
9:54-7-yard run by Gore.
9:55-49ers lineman Mike Iupati leaves with an injury.
9:57-Kaepernick keeps the play alive and finds Crabtree for an 8-yard gain and 1st down on 3rd down.
9:57-15-yard run by Gore.
9:58-10-yard catch for Davis. San Francisco is moving the ball crisply down the field, mixing runs and passes well.
10:03-Kaepernick scrambles for 19 yards so yeah I guess Harbaugh made the right call sitting Alex Smith. Needless to say, he doesn’t make that play.
10:04-Kaepernick forces it to Moss but Dennard can’t make the diving interception in the end zone.
10:05-4-yard run by Gore.
10:07-7-yard run for Gore lets San Francisco convert on another 3rd down. It feels like the Patriots haven’t made any stops on the most important down.
10:08-Pass interference on Moss who shoved away Talib right before the ball got there.
10:09-10-yard run by Kaepernick down to the 4. Dennard got taken out with a cut block by Walker and he’s down with an injury to his knee.
10:11-San Francisco chose to run it with eight seconds left, Gore was stopped at the 2. That’s a win for New England’s defense as Akers hits a 20-yard field goal. 17-3 49ers.
Halftime: 49ers 17, Patriots 3. The funny thing is that San Francisco should be up by way more, frankly New England is lucky to be this close. The 49ers gameplan to keep Brady off the field is working to perfection, the Patriots defense will need to step up and make some plays otherwise they aren’t coming back tonight.
10:28-Gore falls down for a 5-yard loss, I’ll take it.
10:28-Of course on the next play, Gore goes 26 yards on 3rd and 15.
10:29-Anthony Dixon runs 5 yards on his first carry of the game.
10:29-6-yard catch for Crabtree.
10:31-Offsides on Chandler Jones.
10:31-Finally someone on the Patriots defense steps up, McCourty intercepts Kaepernick in the end zone. Kaepernick had all day to throw but it was an easy interception.
10:34-29-yard catch for Lloyd, Brady dropped it in perfectly.
10:34-Brady looks for Welker but Rogers is all over him (legally).
10:35-11-yard catch by Hernandez.
10:36-Ridley runs for 9 yards but former Bill Donte Whitner pops it out with his helmet and Goldson returns it to New England’s 4 (with the help of a penalty on Mankins for a low block on the return).
10:37-Kaepernick fumbles the snap but it goes right to Gore at the 9 who walks in untouched. 24-3 49ers and that might be it. Ridley might not see the field again tonight.
10:41-Goldson crushes Hernandez over the middle but it was helmet to helmet so he gets called for a penalty.
10:42-And that’s curtains, Smith picks off Brady after Hernandez coughs up a screen pass.
10:43-Thanks for playing Patriots, 27-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to Crabtree right down the middle of the field. 31-3 49ers, this is shocking.
10:47-This is the largest deficit at home the Patriots have faced since 1998 (at Foxboro Stadium) vs. Atlanta.
10:48-Patriots finally convert on 3rd down, 17-yard catch by Hernandez.
10:49-5-yard run by Woodhead.
10:49-Welker makes his first catch of the night, for 7 yards.
10:50-5-yard catch by Hernandez.
10:50-7-yard catch by Woodhead.
10:51-7-yard catch by Branch, the no-huddle is finding some success for New England.
Maybe they should have gone to it more often earlier in the game.
10:52-Lloyd wasn’t set at the snap so he gets called for a penalty.
10:53-6-yard catch for Hernandez.
10:53-15-yard run by Woodhead, followed by a 6-yard TD run. So like everyone thought, he’s been a hell of a lot better than Ridley against the 49ers. San Francisco leads 31-10.
10:58-17-yard run by James.
10:58-Ninkovich stops Gore for a 2-yard loss.
11:00-There we go, New England gets the stop and a 3-and-out that they desperately needed. It’s not time to wake the kids up yet but at least they have a pulse left.
11:03-20-yard catch by Hernandez.
11:04-13-yard catch by Lloyd.
11:04-9-yard catch by Welker, he’s alive!
11:05-41-yard catch for Michael Hoomanuwanui, is this real life? Incredible throw and catch. Haha his 3rd catch of the season.
11:06-2 runs by Woodhead up the gut for nothing.
11:06-Ridley comes back from the bench and promptly gets stuffed. It’s going to be 4th-and-Goal when the 4th quarter starts.
After 3 quarters: 49ers 31, Patriots 10. However, if New England can punch it in here, we’ll have a game. I’m thinking either Brady quarterback sneak or perhaps a play action pass since you have to think San Francisco will be selling out on the run.
11:09-Justin Smith has gone to the locker room with an injury.
11:10-Love it, Brady jumped over the line for the score. Game on, Patriots cut it to 31-17 with 14:58 left in regulation. Plenty of pride from New England to get two long scoring drives after most teams (cough Texans) would have rolled over, down 31-3.
11:13-4-yard catch by Crabtree.
11:15-Another 3-and-out forced by the Patriots defense and we’ve got ourselves a ballgame.
11:18-8-yard catch by Hernandez.
11:19-Speaking of cantaloupes, Belichick goes for it on 4th-and-2 from their own 42. Welker comes through with a 15-yard catch on a dump off.
11:23-Brady looks for Lloyd deep but he trips over the defender’s feet and gets the benefit of the doubt with a pass interference call. 1st-and-Goal for the Pats at the 5.
11:24-5-yard touchdown pass to Hernandez, this is incredible. New England has trimmed it to a one-score game, 31-24 49ers and they have all the momentum now. Let’s see what Kaepernick is all about here.
11:28-Illegal hands to the face on a 49ers lineman on Wilfork, who managed to punch Kaepernick on the way by as well.
11:29-11-yard run by Gore.
11:29-Is there anybody on the Patriots defense more sneaky clutch than Ninkovich? He sacks Kaepernick for a loss of 13.
11:31-Francis making plays? What in the world? He chased down Gore after an 8-yard catch. Bottom line, the Patriots get the ball back with a chance to tie.
11:33-A long punt by Andy Lee (the NFL’s best punter) and a 10-yard penalty on New England pushes them back to their own 8. No worries.
11:35-10-yard catch by Lloyd.
11:36-Holy crap, 53-yard catch for Lloyd down the sideline.
11:37-5-yard run by Brady up the middle.
11:38-13-yard catch by Branch.
11:38-Brady forces an encroachment by San Francisco. 1st-and-5 from the 6.
11:39-Haha Brady runs to the goal-line then quick snaps it and Woodhead gets in. Tie game, unbelievable.
11:41-Damn, 62-yard kick return by James brings it to New England’s 38. Haha you gotta laugh, Crabtree takes a quick pass and goes 38 yards for the score. 38-31 San Francisco.
11:46-13-yard catch by Welker.
11:46-Another 13-yard catch by Welker.
11:48-McDonald goes through a hands to the face penalty by Sebastian Vollmer and sacks Brady.
11:48-Ricky Jean Francois sacks Brady for a 7-yard loss. New England is forced to punt but they do have all three timeouts and the 2-minute warning left.
11:51-4-yard run by James.
11:51-Harbaugh and San Francisco got a little too conservative there, three straight runs and they have to punt. New England used their first timeout.
11:54-After a holding penalty, Patriots have to start from their own 3.
11:55-7-yard catch by Lloyd.
11:55-Woodhead drops a tough catch, it’ll be 4th-and-2 from their own 12.
11:56-Yuck, that will be the play everybody talks about. Not only did they go for it (with 2 timeouts left and the 2-minute warning) but it was an incomplete pass over Woodhead.
12:02-Nate Solder tried to block the 28-yard field goal but Akers hit it. San Francisco takes a 10-point lead (41-31) with 1:56 left.
12:04-12-yard catch by Lloyd.
12:05-7-yard catch by Hernandez.
12:06-8-yard catch by Branch on 4th-and-3.
12:06-6-yard catch by Woodhead.
12:07-24-yard catch by Lloyd puts Stephen Gostkowski in range for a 41-yard field goal attempt.
12:08-Some schmoe yells “you’re gonna miss it,” but Gostkowski puts it right down the middle of the goal posts. Patriots cut it to 41-34 so they’ll get a chance at an onside kick.
12:09-Talk about an anti-climatic end to the best game of the 2012 NFL regular season. Gostkowski’s kick didn’t bounce enough and Walker safely secured it.
Final: 49ers 41, Patriots 34. New England’s seven-game win streak was snapped but more importantly, they didn’t crack when they were down 28. That has to mean something. On the other side, San Francisco has to be the team to beat in the NFC and probably the NFL after this insane victory. The best we can hope is that the same teams meet again in New Orleans for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2013.