FOXBOROUGH – (Wire Service Report – Special to Digital Sports Desk) – The New England Patriots improved to 8-2 on the season with Sunday’s 30-17 win over a San Francisco 49ers team that has lost nine straight games. While the result is obviously favorable, what did New England prove one week removed from a 31-24 loss to Seattle in Foxborough, Mass.?
Sure Tom Brady and Co. avoided the rare losing streak – New England has lost consecutive games just six times since 2003 and Brady is 42-10 overall in his career following a loss – but leading an inept 49ers team just 13-10 in the fourth quarter on Sunday was far from the rebounding bloodbath that many expected.
Rainy conditions and a semi-consistent 49ers’ pass rush had Brady and the Patriots’ offense sputtering in the middle of the game. Defensively, New England failed to notch a takeaway for the third straight week, as the unit continues to strive for personnel consistency and playmaking ability.
“Definitely good to get back on track,” wide receiver Julian Edelman declared of the victory after earning 17 targets from Brady in a sort of homecoming in the Bay Area where he grew up.
“We took care of the ball in hard conditions. That was a huge point of emphasis, ball security. To do that and be able to execute when we had to was good.”
Coach Bill Belichick seemed more than content with the final outcome and clean game played by his team in tough weather.
“I thought that was a solid effort by our team. It’s always good to not turn the ball over. We made some big plays on offense in the fourth quarter and we needed those,” Belichick declared. “Overall I thought we played hard. Tough week after the Seattle game coming out here. But I thought the players showed a commitment all week and came out and played with energy.
“Tough day but I thought our guys hung in there and battled well. It’s good to have eight wins.”
Brady recorded four touchdown passes for the second time in three contests, giving him 16 in just six games played this season. He continued to show the ability to evade pressure, make plays with his feet and throw on the run, including a 56-yard touchdown to rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell that was easily the prettiest play of the day.
Meanwhile the defense that now once again ranks as a top-five scoring unit kept things close to give Brady the chance to pull away in the end.