New England Patriots Gamenight: Shades of Desmond Howard


Curtis Martin took the hand off from Drew Bledsoe and scampered 18 yards for a touchdown to bring the New England Patriots within 6 points of the heavily favored Green Bay Packers.

Martin’s chest thumping, foot stomping touchdown celebration signaled to the world that his Patriots had all of the momentum and that the New England comeback was inevitable and that the Packers were back on their heels…

…one kick return later, and all of the momentum was gone -as were the chances that the Patriots would pull the upset over Green Bay in Super Bowl 31.

Dec 16, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) gets sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald (91) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. The San Francisco 49ers won 41-34. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Forward, December 16, 2012.  Danny Woodhead crashes into the end zone, completing a furious, improbable comeback by the New England Patriots to tie the score at 31 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Woodhead’s stomping, Rob Gronkowski-esque thunder spike signaled to the world that his Patriots had all of the momentum and that the Patriots comeback was inevitable and that the 49ers were back on their heels…

…one kick return later…

The New England Patriots remarkable comeback from a 31-3 deficit in the third quarter Sunday night was the stuff of legend.

Chris Collinsworth, the color analyst for NBC working along side Al Michaels was gushing openly openly about Brady, the fans that had stayed through the steady freezing rain were in a state of euphoria and husbands and fathers all over New England woke up their wives and kids in celebration…

…at least this husband and father did – but it was all for nothing, as it turns out.

Just as I did 16 years earlier, I fell back heavily onto my couch, mouth agape, uttering profanities as I could literally see New England’s steamroller of momentum lurch to a sudden stop as San Francisco’s LaMichael James avoided would-be tacklers, weaving in and out of traffic, then skirting up the sideline for a 62 yard kickoff return.

Forty Niner’s wide receiver Michael Crabtree would finish the job on the first play after James’ long return, taking a 2 yard out pattern down the same sideline for a touchdown and a 38-31 lead that the Patriots would never recover from.

There was still 6 1/2 minutes left for Brady to work with, but the shift in momentum doomed any thought of another comeback, as the 49ers exhausted defense brought the house, sacking Brady to end the next drive.

New England got the ball back with 2:56 remaining in the game , but was deep in their own territory.  Facing a 4th and 1 from their own 12 with 2 time outs plus the 2 minute warning, Brady and Belichick decided to go for the 1 yard instead of punting and relying on their defense to get the ball back…

…which reminds me of another 4th down situation from a few years back, but I’ll leave that alone for now.

I can only handle one disappointing memory at a time.