It was a wild one, a lengthy game that, when it ended after midnight on the East Coast, delivered the Patriots’ first loss in December in Gillette Stadium in 10 years and a statement from Colin Kaepernick. In the freezing rain, there were eight fumbles, three interceptions and 75 points as the 49ers won 41-34. There was also a blown 28-point lead and a Tom Brady performance that fell just short of historic, even by his ludicrous standards. Oh, and, for good measure, there was a curious fourth-down call that dampened a furious rally.
“You just beat Tom Brady!” 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh told Kaepernick (via NBC’s Peter King).
Kaepernick, like Brady a Northern California guy, completed 14 of 25 passes for 216 yards and four touchdowns in a performance that Harbaugh called “Tom Brady-ish” and ended the last vestiges of the Bay Area QB controversy.
“It feels amazing,” Kaepernick told King. “Watching Tom, when I grew up, play the position so well, he was someone I always really admired.”
Kaepernick was making his fifth career start, but pointed out that he isn’t exactly a newcomer to football. “This is my 17th year of football,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was 8 years old. So, to me, I am going to go out there and I’m going to throw to the guy who is open and you try to keep football simple so your mind can be clear when you are on the field.”
Brady completed 36 of 65 passes for 443 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, but a controversial decision by Coach Belichick put the team in a 10-point hole with just over two minutes left. Just as he did in 2009, Belichick had the Patriots go for it on fourth-and-1 at their 12-yard line with 2:24 left. They didn’t make it and David Akers kicked a field goal. Rob Gostkowski narrowed the lead with a field goal with 38 seconds left, but the Patriots were finished.
Belichick admitted that he didn’t coach well, but said only of his decision to go for it: “It was fourth-and-1.”
The way Kaepernick was playing, maybe it didn’t matter.