San Francisco 49ers ended New England's win streak following a 41-34 success
The San Francisco 49ers secured a play-off berth after withstanding a stunning comeback by New England on Sunday night.
Last Updated: 18/12/12 7:59am
Michael Crabtree received a short pass from Colin Kaepernick and sped around cornerback Kyle Arrington for a 38-yard touchdown with 6:25 to go, then David Akers made a 28-yard field goal to clinch it.
That was enough to see San Francisco (10-3-1) claim a wild-card spot and they will now play at Seattle next week with a chance to win the NFC West. Defeat would bring the division race down to the final weekend.
Kaepernick threw for four touchdowns, two to Crabtree, who had 107 yards receiving. The defence rattled Tom Brady at times, but also yielded 443 yards passing.
AFC East champions New England (10-4), who had won seven straight, trailed 31-3 at one stage before staging a dramatic fight back.
The 49ers appeared headed for an easy win in a sloppy game. They forced four turnovers, matching the number of giveaways New England had at home all season.
But then the Niners began sleepwalking, and back came Brady and the Patriots. A six-yard TD run by Danny Woodhead and a one-yard dive by Brady gave them hope.
A five-yard pass to Aaron Hernandez and Woodhead's one-yard run with 12:13 remaining levelled the score.
San Francisco mounted a quick response, though. Rookie LaMichael James broke free for a 62-yard kick-off return. On the next snap - the third time the Niners would have a one-play TD drive - Crabtree took a pass on the left side, spun and headed into the end zone.
New England turned over the ball on downs and Akers made his kick. Stephen Gostkowski added a 41-yarder for the Patriots with 38 seconds remaining, but they could not recover the onside kick.