Well, that was one of the craziest games I’ve ever seen. Saw a game years ago when it was Joe Montana vs Dan Fouts at the Stick years ago. Both teams went up and down the field all day. Defenses left gasping for air as 2 high-powered offenses had their way. San Diego had the ball last, and thus won 41-38. Fantastic game even if it wasn’t a Niner win.
Yesterday’s game? Even more wild. The difference being this game was a tale of 2 halfs. In the 1st half, the Niners played well, but wasted a bunch of scoring opportunities and still went into the locker room with a 17-3 lead. The 2nd half saw the Niners strike quick;y for 14 more points, then Tom Brady led a ferocious comeback a 31-3 deficit to tie the game late in the 4th quarter, only to lose in the end.
The 1st drive was an impressive march down the field in 6 plays, capped by a 24 yard strike to Randy Moss. The D played outstanding in the 1st half (1 first down, 113 yards for NE). Carlos Rogers picked Brady on a deep ball, and nearly scored, only to have Walker fumble away the opportunity. Next drive, on 4th and 10, Goldson took the snap on a fake punt for a 31 yard gain, only to see David (sayonara) Akers miss a 39 yard FG. Another turnover (a Bowman strip) deep in NE territory was followed by a botched snap (one of 5) on 4th and 1 from the NE 25. Kappy then led the Niners on 2 scoring drives to close out the half. A deep sideline route to Walker for a 34 yard score, and a 6 minute drive ending in a FG to close the half. A great job of keeping Brady on the sideline, but the Niners left at least 20 points off the board.
3rd quarter? The Niners came out very aggressive again, as Kappy took a deep shot to Moss that was picked off. He didn’t see the weak-side safety, and he took a real deep drop. The pass was short and easily picked. On the ensuing drive, Donte Whitner laid the wood on Steven Ridley, and the fumble was returned by Goldson to the 6. On another botched exchange by Goodwin and Kappy, Gore picked up the fumble and ran it in for a 24-7 lead. Aldon Smith (who was in Brady’s face all 1st half) intercepted a tipped pass, and Kappy took advantage on the next play, throwing a strike down the middle, splitting 2 defenders for a 27 yard Crabman TD. The route was on. 31-7.
Then it wasn’t. No gory details, but the Niners went into deep shell mode, and the offense went a little conservative. It took the Pats 4 drives (35 plays for 320 yards for NE compared to 10 plays/20 yards for the Niners) to tie the score. trhen came the biggest play of the game. LMJ, who had a good day spelling Gore, returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to the NE 38. It took one play, an allouit blitz by NE that Kappy read, and found his secondary reciever, Crabs, who stepped around the corner and YACed his was to the go-ahead TD. Even though the drive took tllittle time and gave the defense little rest, it really pumped up the team, and the defense did enough to slow the Brady onslaught. The Niners forced a turnover on downs as NE went for it on 4th and 1 on their own 12. A strange call as NE had 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. This led to a chip-shit FG. NE added a FG of their own as Delanie Walker recovered the onsides kick with little problem.
Say what you will about the NE comeback and stagnation of the offense for those 3 drives, this is a huge win for the Forty Niners. NE hadn’t lost a December game at home in years, and they were the hottest team in the league. The Niners overcame their own mistakes and the ferocious comeback by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady to win on the road in the freezing rain against the defending AFC champions. Kappy’s numbers look small when compared to Brady’s, but Tom Terrific threw 2 picks to one TD on 36 of 65 for a whopping 443 yards, as NE outgained SF 520 to 383. Kappy threw 4 TDs and 1 pick on 14 for 25, 216 yards.