LaMichael James on late kick return: ‘We needed a boost’
|12.17.12 at 1:52 am ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots had completed the near-unthinkable; coming back from a 28-point deficit to tie the 49ers, 31-31, with less than seven minutes left to play on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. The crowd, which had thinned just a bit after San Francisco jumped out to such an astonishing lead, began to electrify the stadium.
After Danny Woodhead scored his second rushing touchdown of the night to tie the score, rookie running back LaMichael James thought to himself, ‘Don’t flinch.’
James was back to return the Stephen Gostkowski kickoff, and recognized that his team needed a spark. He took the ball down the left sideline, got a few blocks, and sprung a 62-yard return that set the 49ers on the Patriots’ 38-yard line.
One play was all it took for Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick to capitalize, as he hit Michael Crabtree for a 38-yard score that put his team up for good.
After the game, James said that he knew in his mind what his team needed after letting a four-touchdown lead disappear.
‘We needed a boost. That’s exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking I was going to take it to the house,’ James said. ‘I just kept telling myself that I was going to get down there. I believed in it, and it happened.’
On the very next drive for the Patriots, Tom Brady was sacked twice and Zoltan Mesko was forced to send the ball back to San Francisco. It was the first drive that the Patriots didn’t score on since midway through the third quarter.
James said that they couldn’t let the fact that they had blown a huge lead get to them, because they knew who they were up against, and whose territory they were in.
‘They’re a great team. You know, Tom Brady is a great quarterback, and they have great players. You have to keep fighting; nobody said it was going to be easy,’ he said.
‘Great return by LaMichael,’ 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said on Sunday night. ‘’¦ Not where he was supposed to go with the ball, ‘¦ but he saw what we saw, kicked it out to LaMichael and then LaMichael made a huge play.’