EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

December 17, 2012

49ers, not Patriots, look like true champion

FOXBORO — It may not have been pretty, but a very clear statement was made through the rain and fog last night at Gillette Stadium.

The 49ers proved they are a legitimate contender, and the road to a Super Bowl title appears to now go through San Francisco.

After the Patriots delivered a crushing punch, rallying back from a 28-point deficit to tie the game with 6:43 left, San Francisco could have bowed to the team of the last decade.

Instead, the 49ers endured what could have made the best of teams crumble, and bounced off the canvas punching on the way to a 41-34 victory last night.

“This was BIG,” said defensive back Carlos Rogers. “Flying across the country, playing this team. Everything thought we were going to lose, and to hang in there and get this win against (the Patriots) was huge.”

It wasn‘t a masterpiece. In fact, it was downright ugly. Like, Charlie Sheen after a Las Vegas bender ugly.

But, when the heat was on in a nationally televised game, it was the 49ers — not the perennially resilient Patriots — that hung on for a victory in what could have been a preview of Super Bowl VLVII.

“We showed that we are strong,” said linebacker NaVorro Bowman. “We knew that we would face some adversity and they would make some plays. But we showed we could overcome a lot of adversity. We just needed to settle down.”

Last night was perfect Brady/Belichick magic, another chapter in the storied legacy of two Hall of Fame icons at the top of the sport. It was too perfect that it would be another epic comeback by the two all-time football giants against a formally great organization.

With the 49ers seeming in control with 10:21 to go in the third, holding a 31-3 lead, the Patriots suddenly turned the tide in epic fashion.

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