EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 17, 2012

Road to Super Bowl now filled with hurdles

Patriots: They have a much tougher road now

(Continued)

In the past, this gets a player on the bench. Well, who replaces him? Shane Vereen? He had a fumble, too, after a short pass reception and never returned.

As for last night, it was very disappointing. The Patriots, for the first time in a very long time, were not prepared for a team of this caliber.

The 49ers did everything the Patriots usually do: win the toss, defer, get the first touchdown, get a second touchdown and make you play catch up.

It was striking how the 49ers pushed the pace, particularly on offense, confusing the Patriots defenders, and getting a Bill Belichick team on its heels.

The play that best exemplified that was a screen pass to Frank Gore on the 49ers first drive of the second half. He broke two tackles and scampered 23 yards for a heart-breaking first down. It was a very “Patriot-like” play.

“The season is not over,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. “We still have two games to play.”

Brady is right. There are two games remaining against (at) Jacksonville and Miami, both expected wins.

But now the Patriots will go back to their Super Bowl era roots, particularly the first Super Bowl, when expectations were low.

Maybe that’s what these Patriots needed, a little “dissing” from America. Because I can tell you one thing after last night, the “dissing” is coming.

Email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

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