The San Francisco 49ers entered Sunday with one win on the season.
The New England Patriots entered with seven.
By the time both departed from the waterlogged field at Levi’s Stadium, those trends had given way to the expected result. Through the first three quarters, however, two unfamiliar teams heading in opposite directions played far closer than they appeared on paper. Only a field goal separated them.
But the final 15 minutes would see the Patriots take control, turning a 13-10 lead into a 30-17 victory while improving to 8-2 on the campaign.
Here’s a closer look at the numbers that went into it.
Through 10 games, Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount has gone without a touchdown only twice. But while Sunday did not end in the end zone for Blount, it would end with him having racked up 124 yards on 19 carries. Blount, in turn, is now up to 802 yards and 12 touchdowns on 201 carries this campaign.
It’s the number of games in which Blount has rushed for over 100 yards this season. It’s also the number of games in which quarterback Tom Brady has thrown for at least three touchdowns through six starts. And, for good measure, four also stands as wideout Danny Amendola’s new single-season high in touchdown catches.
Blount broke free on a 44-yard run in the opening quarter versus San Francisco, and it now checks in as his longest gallop of the season, eclipsing his previous best of 41 set against the Houston Texans on Sept. 11.
In his return to the Bay Area, Brady went 24-of-40 through the air for 280 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. The native of nearby San Mateo now has 21 career games with at least four touchdown strikes and no picks, which is the most in NFL history.
Pick No. 199 overall in the 2000 draft now has 199 career victories, including the postseason, as the Patriots’ starter under center. That ties Brady with Brett Favre for the second-most in league history, and sets him only one win away from tying Peyton Manning atop the record books.
Julian Edelman also proved to make the most of his homecoming. The flanker was targeted 17 times against the 49ers, and turned eight into completions for 77 yards as well as a toe-tapping touchdown. The 17-target tally is the fourth-highest of Edelman’s career, behind his 18 versus the New York Jets in 2013 and the 19 he collected against both the Miami Dolphins in 2013 and Buffalo Bills in 2015.
Since Nov. 23, 2015, Patriots receiving back James White has accounted for 10 touchdowns, with eight via catches and two via carries. The 2014 fourth-rounder out of Wisconsin had none on his NFL resume prior to then.
In his first game since suffering a torn ACL against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 8, 2015, Dion Lewis pieced together 49 yards on five carries and three catches, good for an efficient 6.1 yards per touch. He left his mark in a backfield that has managed to make one without him.
Rob Gronkowski did not make the trip to San Francisco as a result of the chest injury he sustained the previous Sunday, and without the four-time All-Pro, New England’s two active tight ends – Martellus Bennett and Matt Lengel – combined to reel in one pass for 14 yards. That catch was made by Bennett, and it took place with 1:56 to go in the third quarter. But while receptions were sparse, blocking was integral.
Rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell had seven catches for 95 yards on the season entering Sunday. Yet against the 49ers, and with starter Chris Hogan held out due to a back ailment, the Georgia product snared four catches for 98 yards and his first career touchdown – a 56-yard scamper on third-and-8 in the fourth quarter.
It is the number of sacks linebacker Kyle Van Noy has notched through his one-game Patriots career, as well as the number of sacks the 2014 second-round pick out of Brigham Young accumulated through his tenure with the Detroit Lions. Van Noy, who was acquired on Oct. 25, had twice been a healthy inactive before making his Patriots debut on Sunday.
The Patriots hit home for a total of five sacks on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which set a new season-high for a defense that had amassed only 16 through the first nine games. Three of which arrived in the first quarter alone, and by the game’s conclusion, Van Noy, fellow frontmen Rob Ninkovich and Dont’a Hightower, as well as cornerback Malcolm Butler and safety Patrick Chung all were credited with a slice of the pie.
San Francisco let the football slip loose on five occasions Sunday, with Kaepernick fumbling twice and running back Carlos Hyde, receiver Jeremy Kerley and center Daniel Kilgore all doing so once. But New England’s defense, which forced three of those miscues, was unable to recover any of them.
Kaepernick completed eight passes in the first half and another eight passes in the second half. But it was very much a tale of two halves for the 49ers quarterback. Kaepernick went 8-of-9 for 116 yards and a touchdown through the first two quarters, before going 8-of-21 for 90 yards and an additional score through the final two.
Kerley, the 49ers’ leading receiver, has been a thorn in the Patriots’ side over the years. But the ex-Jet was held without a catch over the course of six targets on Sunday. Kerley had posted 37 receptions for 527 yards and three touchdowns through his previous eight meetings with New England. Credit goes to the cornerbacks.
By improving to 8-2 in the process of with Sunday’s win, the Patriots are now the fifth team – and first since the 1983-1998 49ers – to have at least 16-straight seasons with a record of .500 or better.