San Francisco were primed to bury New England in a whole not many would believe it could climb out of coming out of the half. After the 49ers offense sputtered and were pushed to a third-and-15, Colin Kaepernick hit Frank Gore with a screen pass for 26 yards and the first down. That play seemed to have swung the momentum fully in San Francisco's favor only for Devin McCourty to make an interception in the end zone, saving what could have been another Randy Moss touchdown.
Following two big connections from Brady to his New England receivers, running back Stevan Ridley fumbled yet again, only this time he wasn't marked down when he lost possession. The NIners recovered, running the ball down inside the red zone, which eventually led to a Gore touchdown on a broken play.
Kaepernick fumbled for the fourth time in the evening, only for Gore to pick up the ball and zig zag his way into the end zone.
On the very next possession, Aldon Smith, who has made a name for himself as a sack extraordinaire, picked off Brady, which set up another San Francisco score. Kaepernick found a streaking Michael Crabtree for a 27-yard touchdown to give the Niners a huge advantage heading into the fourth.
The Patriots responded, finding Aaron Hernandez early and often, as Danny Woodhead capped the drive with New England's first touchdown of the night. Similar to earlier in the quarter before Ridely's fumble, the no huddle offense was the only success the Patriots had found, using it to run a 13-play drive in just 4:22.
And all of a sudden, another Patriots defensive stand turned into Brady leading the offense down the field yet again. The veteran signal caller brought New England down to a fourth-and-goal to close the third quarter.
After holding a 52 percent conversion rate on third downs, the Patriots were 0-for-7 before getting their first with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third.
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