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Brady completed a 23-yard pass to Brandon Lloyd to start New England’s next drive, but then was drilled in the back by Aldon Smith. Two plays later, again on third down, Smith got a free run at Brady, who threw the ball into the turf.
Possession No. 3 ended quickly, with Brady’s fifth interception of the season.
He looked deep and Wes Welker and Carlos Rogers got tangled up as they were tracking the pass. Perhaps because of that, the ball was out in front of Welker, and Rogers got the interception. The cornerback ran it all the way back to the 5, where Brady tripped him up.
But despite being so close to paydirt, the 49ers came away emptyhanded: first down was a pass out of the end zone, and on second down, Kaepernick completed a short pass to tight end Delanie Walker. Hit by Steve Gregory, Walker fumbled, and Dennard recovered.
New England did nothing and went three-and-out.
On the 49ers’ next possession, coach Jim Harbaugh made a gutsy call on fourth and 10, having the ball snapped to defensive back Dashon Goldson instead of punter Andy Lee. Goldson made it to the New England 28, a gain of 31 yards.
The second chance, however, ended with a missed 39-yard field goal attempt from David Akers.
Another Patriots lost fumble, this one from Vereen, again netted no points for the Niners.
New England got on the board in the second quarter with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, but needed 16 plays to cover 62 yards.
San Francisco scored 10 more points before halftime, on a 34-yard Kaepernick-to-Walker touchdown, again with Dennard as the nearest defender, though his reaction suggested he was expecting safety help. There was also the field goal from Akers to end the half.
Though Brady found some solace in the way his team battled back in the second half, as Welker noted, it’s still a loss.
“We started playing better football and started really trying to put the plays together and move the ball down the field. It was just too late,” Welker said.
“It’s very disappointing,” added Jerod Mayo. “When you lose a game it’s always disappointing, but especially to lose like this. We prepared well, we couldn’t get a turnover, we’ve been getting turnovers.”