|First-quarter notes: Niners 7, Patriots 0||12.16.12 at 9:14 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The first quarter is in the books here in Foxboro, and the Niners hold a 7-0 lead. Here are a few quick notes:
•The Patriots lost the coin toss and received the kickoff to start the game.
•The weather is a big issue, as both teams have had problems with footing as well as hanging onto the ball throughout the first quarter. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen both lost the handle, while Tom Brady threw a bad interception for the Patriots. In addition, Delanie Walker had a fumble for the Niners and Colin Kaepernick frequently lost the handle while under center. It’s clear that both teams will struggle with the elements as the game rolls on.
•Defensively, one of the changes the New England defense featured early was Mike Rivera in place of Brandon Spikes, who had been dogged by injury over the course of the week. Spikes was on the field at his usually middle linebacker spot for the second series, a sequence that featured the first 3-and-out of the night for the Niners. The best defensive play of the quarter for New England came when the Niners — already up 7-0 — were knocking on the door of the end zone, but on a Kaepernick pass for Walker near the goal line, the ball was knocked loose by Steve Gregory on a ringing hit, and was picked up by Talib. The Patriots couldn’t cash in, and were forced to punt.
•The Patriots dodged an early bullet when a Ridley fumble was overturned on the first series, but New England couldn’t take advantage. After New England punted, the 49ers were able to pick up some good yardage on their first drive of the night, and cashed in when Colin Kaepernick found Randy Moss on a 24-yard touchdown strike down the San Francisco sidelines for the touchdown that gave the Niners a 7-0 lead with 10:55 left in the quarter — the only score of the quarter.
•The offensive struggles continued for the Patriots, as Brady was picked off by Carlos Rogers, who took it back 53 yards. On the pass play, it was a bad ball by Brady, who threw it into double coverage for Wes Welker. The ball sailed on him, and was picked off easily.
•Probably the nicest offensive play of the first quarter for the Patriots was a 23-yard completion from Brady to Brandon Lloyd that got the Patriots started on their second drive of the night, but Aldon Smith got to Brady just as he was trying to get off a pass on third down later on the same drive, and the pass attempt fell incomplete. That forced the second punt of the night for New England. Smith has been immense through the first quarter — as advertised.
•Dashon Goldson ran 31 yards around left end on a fake punt to set up a 39-yard field goal attempt, but David Akers was wide left on his field goal attempt.
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