Tonight’s game was the story of two halves. The Patriots offense came out as flat as they’ve been all season, which really shouldn’t have been all that surprising coming off an emotional win on MNF over the Texans.
They were lucky to only be down 17-3 at the half but overall this was a highly uncharacteristic half of football for the Pats and not one by which your overall opinion of the team should be really affected.
The fact that they came out in the second half and continued to stink was disheartening but at 31-3, when it looked like it was about to be the worst blowout loss for the Pats since 2009’s at the hands of the Saints the Patriots suddenly ignited.
After the pick six in the third that made it 31-3 the Patriots offense went on a tear and put up four straight touchdown drives with the defense forcing three straight three-and-outs.
For that brief moment in the game the Patriots showed some of their best football of the season. But sadly the epic comeback was all for naught as the 49ers returned the following kickoff all the way into Pats territory, then scored on the next play on a 38-yard touchdown that saw Kyle Arrington whiff on a tackle.
If this game didn’t have playoff implications I could likely spin it positively. The Pats showed incredible fight and heart, and never gave up even after playing some of their worst football of the year.
There is no question, for a team to end New England’s season in the playoffs it will take them 60 minutes of solid football.
But alas, the Patriots are now in the third AFC seed and no longer one of the two teams that get a bye. The two teams ahead of them, Houston and Denver, have just as easy schedules as the Patriots do, so it seems unlikely either of them will drop a game.
That doesn’t totally rule it out, but it’s very likely the Pats went from having to win two games to get to the Super Bowl to having to win three games, and as many as two of them on the road in Houston and Denver.