- It Is What It Is - http://itiswhatitis.weei.com -

LaMichael James on late kick return: ‘We needed a boost’

FOXBORO — The Patriots had completed the near-unthinkable; coming back from a 28-point deficit to tie the 49ers [1], 31-31, with less than seven minutes left to play on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium [2]. 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 [3] scored his second rushing touchdown of the night to tie the score, rookie running back LaMichael James thought to himself, ‘€œDon’€™t flinch.’€

James was back to return the Stephen Gostkowski [4] 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 [5] 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.

‘€œWe needed a boost. That’€™s exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking I was going to take it to the house,’€ James said. ‘€œI 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 [6] 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.

‘€œThey’€™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.

‘€œGreat return by LaMichael,’€ 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh [7] said on Sunday night. ‘€œ’€¦ 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.’€