With today’s events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I’m finding it difficult to focus on football so today’s entry (other than the previously written history stuff) will be short.
I have always liked to research an opponent during the week leading up to a game. You get to learn about their strengths, weaknesses and tendencies, and see things in a different light once the game kicks off with that additionl education.
NFL Game Rewind is a great product that I highly recommend, but many fans don’t have the time or inclination to spend hours watching games of next week’s opponent. To me the next best thing for gaining insight on that opponent is to find analysis from writers and/or fans that follow that team every day. With that in mind here are a few links that may be of interest to Pats fans, for views from a 49er perspective.
It’s clear NFL teams don’t know how to defend the pistol, and if the 49ers are challenging the edges of the Pats’ defense, they are running away from Vince Wilfork who’s a force in the middle. Additionally, the 49ers have yet to try many passes out of the formation.
A couple of years ago, the Dolphins used the wildcat with Ronnie Brown against New England, and Miami upset them. Maybe the 49ers can spring the pistol on them and have the same result.
On passing downs, the 49ers could take advantage of the Pats’ slow-footed guards. Late in the Dolphins game, Smith moved inside and went right past Miami guard Richie Incognito, and it wasn’t close.
At college at Missouri, Smith got several of his sacks against guards who are not equipped to handle his quickness.
If you missed it earlier this week, the Patriots Fourth and Two crew had an interesting and lengthy discussion about the 49ers with Jason Fierman of Route 4 Sports. You can hear the hour long podcast right here.
A few other sites of interest:
That’s it for today; time to go home and give my kids a hug, even if they are all grown up now.
This Day In Patriots History
December 14, 1963:
Kansas City Chiefs 35, Boston Patriots 3
In the first quarter the Pats moved had the ball inside the Kansas City 10-yard line, but had to settle for a 15-yard field goal by Gino Cappelletti. From that point on it was the Chiefs dominated on both sides of the ball for a big upset win. The Pats loss, combined with Buffalo’s win over the Jets left the Bills and Pats tied for first place in the AFL East. Since there were no tiebreakers back then those two teams would meet in two weeks to determine the division winner and the right to go on to play for the AFL championship.
December 14, 1969:
Houston Oilers 27, Boston Patriots 23 at the Astrodome
Ron Sellers had a career-high 158 yards receiving but Houston outscored the Patriots 13-0 in the 4th quarter for a comeback victory. After Carl Garrett scored on a three-yard run the Pats settled for field goals although on three red zone possessions to lead 16-0 in the 2nd quarter. Houston scored on a 43-yard Pete Beathard TD pass to cut the lead to 9 at halftime, and scored again early in the 2nd half to cut the deficit to two. Charley Frazier scored on an 8-yard toss from Mike Taliaferro to push the lead back up to nine, but in the 4th quarter two field goals sandwiched around another Beathard touchdown pass finished the come from behind win for the Oilers. The Patriots had only seven first downs and were out-gained 449 yards to 256, but took advantage by recovering three Houston fumbles for the early lead.
December 14, 1975:
Buffalo Bills 34, New England Patriots 14 at Schaefer Stadium
Don Calhoun caught a career-long 62 yard pass from Steve Grogan for a touchdown, but after that the Bills ran over the Pats for the win. Buffalo ran the ball 53 times for 349 yards, with O.J. Simpson rushing for 185 yards and a touchdown, and Jim Braxton going for 101 yards and two scores. New England LB Kevin Reilly intercepted a pass and ran it back 54 yards; it was the only pick of his NFL career. The Pats shot themselves in the foot, turning the ball over six times to hand the game to Buffalo on a platter. The other points came on a 20-yard touchdown run by Andy Johnson.
December 14, 1980:
New England Patriots 24, Buffalo Bills 2 at Schaefer Stadium
The Patriots blasted the Bills to move within one game of Buffalo in the AFC East. The Pats defense forced three turnovers, surrendered just 8 first downs, and sacked three Buffalo quarterbacks 8 times for a loss of 62 yards. Vagas Ferguson rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown, and Matt Cavanaugh tossed touchdown passes to Russ Francis and Andy Johnson in the victory.
December 14, 1986:
San Francisco 49ers 29, New England Patriots 24 at Sullivan Stadium
Entering the game the 49ers led the league in takeaways and the Patriots led the league with the fewest turnovers, but San Francisco won that battle when it counted. Trailing 17-16 entering the 4th quarter, the 49ers went ahead, 19-17, on Ray Wersching‘s 31-yard field goal with 13:34 left. They then scored their final 10 points, on Wersching’s third field goal (after a recovery of a Tony Collins fumble) and Joe Cribbs‘ 2nd TD run (three plays after an interception of a tipped Tony Eason pass that was returned by Keena Turner to the Pats 25-yard line).
Less than three minutes into the game the Patriots took a 7-0 lead on Eason’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Greg Baty. SF tied it later on Cribbs’ first touchdown run, then the Pats went back in front late in the 1st quarter on a 41-yard field goal by Tony Franklin. A Roger Craig TD and a field goal put the 49ers up 16-10 at the half, and then a 4-yard touchdown run by Collins gave the Pats a 17-16 lead heading into the 4th quarter.
Eason (22-37 for 227 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) held his own against legendary Joe Montana (14-for-25 for 202 yards, no TD, 1 INT), though Eason’s turnovers were more costly than Montana’s one pick. Stanley Morgan had 8 receptions for 121 yards, including a 38-yard TD in the 4th quarter that made the score 29-24 with 4:06 left to play. Unfortunately for the Pats the 49ers were able to run the full four minutes off the clock, and they never got a chance at one more offensive drive.
December 14, 2003:
New England Patriots 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 13 at Gillette Stadium
The Patriots set a franchise record with their 10th consecutive win, beating a team from Florida in the snow for the second time in eight days. With the win the Pats improved to 6-0 all-time when it snows in Foxboro, and 13-2 over the last ten years when the temperature is 35 or cooler.
The Pats scored on the first possession when Jacksonville fell for a play-action pass and Tom Brady hit a wide-open Daniel Graham for a 27-yard touchdown; Adam Vinatieri kicked two field goals to make it 13-6 at the half. Jacksonville had the ball inside the Pats 10-yard line twice, but the Pats defense held them to field goals both times.
In the 3rd quarter Brady hit Troy Brown, who was playing for the first time since November 3, on a corner route out of the slot for a 10-yard touchdown. Brown also had a big 23-yard reception on a 3rd-and-20 on the drive that led to Vinatieri’s first field goal.
With the score 20-6 Tyrone Poole made one of his two interceptions on the day and returned it to the Jacksonville 3-yard line. That led to an Antowain Smith touchdown and the game was for all intents and purposes over.
When Jacksonville scored with 3:22 left it ended a streak where the New England defense had gone 62 possessions and 19 quarters at The Razor without allowing an opponent to score a touchdown; they were the first team since the 1938 Giants to not allow a TD in four straight home games.
There was abit of controversy in this game as Richard Seymour did not play the first quarter. Seymour, who had a critical sack on one of the drives that Jacksonville settled for a field goal, missed two days of practice in the week leading up to the game. Seymour had missed time to attend his granfather’s funeral in South Carolina; speculation was that he had either not properly notified Bill Belichick or was only granted one day off.
December 14, 2008:
New England Patriots 49, Oakland Raiders 26 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Matt Cassell threw a career high four touchdown passes, two to former Raider Randy Moss, as the Pats jumped out to a three-touchdown halftime lead and cruised to their 10th straight win in the month of December. The Patriots led 21-0 before Oakland had recorded a single first down.
The Patriots scored on their first four possessions, with a 7-yard pass to Kevin Faulk, a 20-yard pass to Moss, a 29-yard run by Sammy Morris, and 13-yard pass to Wes Welker; that gave the Pats a 28-7 lead less than two minutes into the 2nd quarter. Oakland’s Justin Miller returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, and then on the following kickoff Ellis Hobbs returned the favor, running it back 95 yards for another New England touchdown.
Moss scored on 9-yard pass on the first possession of the second half to make it 42-14 and the rout was on. In the 4th quarter another ex-Raider, LaMont Jordan joined in the fun with a 49-yard touchdown run; on the day he ran for 97 yards, his highest total as a member of the Patriots.
On defense Jonathan Wilhite had the first interception of his NFL career, and Mike Wright and Mike Vrabel each had a sack for the Pats; future Patriot Trevor Scott had two sacks for Oakland.
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Around the Internet: