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Sports

December 18, 2012

Patriots shake loss to 49ers, focus on Jaguars

(Continued)

Ah, Jacksonville.

The Jaguars (2-12) are far less formidable than the 49ers (10-3-1). Their 24-3 loss to Miami on Sunday was their seventh by at least 16 points, and guaranteed that they would have at least a tie for the worst record in franchise history (1995, 4-12).

The Patriots finish the regular season a week later against the Dolphins (6-8). If New England wins its remaining games, Denver (11-3) would have to lose one of its games — against struggling Cleveland (5-9) or Kansas City (2-12) — for the Patriots to take the No. 2 spot.

The Texans (12-2) lead the AFC and have games left vs. Minnesota (8-6) and Indianapolis (9-5).

“The seeding and all that will play out how it plays out,” safety Steve Gregory said. “We’ve still got a few games left here, so we’ll just grind away and get on to the next game.”

The last one was memorable, even if the Patriots lost.

One week after routing the Texans, 42-14, the Patriots were on the other end of a lopsided score, trailing 31-3 five minutes into the third quarter. Then they scored 28 points in just over 14 minutes, a stunning comeback that tied the game at 31-31 with 6:43 left.

Only one team had won a regular-season game after trailing by 28 points and it was the 49ers. They overcame a 35-7 halftime deficit and beat New Orleans, 38-35, on Dec. 7, 1980.

But today’s 49ers needed just two plays on Sunday — a 62-yard kickoff return by LaMichael James and a 38-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree — to take the lead for good.

“The way we played, we can’t beat anybody,” New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “We played a brutal first half and then, all of a sudden, in one quarter we came out and everything clicked. So we just have to be more consistent.”

And more careful. The Patriots had an NFL-low 10 giveaways going into the game but committed four against the 49ers.

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