Halfway through the third quarter, this game looked like a rare blowout with New England on the wrong end, with the San Francisco 49ers up 31-3 after Colin Kaepernick threw a strike to Michael Crabtree. New England scored to make it 31-10, and got to the goal line as the fourth quarter began.
Tom Brady scored on a QB sneak on fourth down from the 1, New England again converted a 4th and 2 near midfield on the way to another score, and got a questionable pass interference that put them in position to tie the game at 31-31. The Patriots were in position to join this list of eight teams that successfully overcame a 21 point or greater deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to win.
Instead, a big LaMichael James kickoff return right after the tying score set up the go ahead touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, and New England never again tied it. In doing so, the Patriots become the eighth team to come back from a 21 point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to tie/take the lead, only to lose in the end. Hmmm, 8 successes, 8 comebacks that still lost. Seems like momentum is only as good as your next play, whether you’ve come from behind in a big way or not. Here are the seven others:
- Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans, 2007
- Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints, 1993
- New England Patriots vs. New York Jets, 1991
- San Francisco 49ers vs. Washington Redskins, 1983 (Playoffs in January of 1984)
- Baltimore Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1980
- Houston Oilers vs. New York Jets, 1980
- Detroit Lions vs. Washington Redskins, 1979
[images, video and gifs via @cfbsection]