NCAA

Patriots shake loss to 49ers, focus on Jaguars

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Patriots shake loss to 49ers, focus on Jaguars

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The New England Patriots claim they don't think about playoff seeding. They say the only games they focus on are the next one or two. Win and their postseason position will take care of itself.

Winning their remaining two regular-season games, though, may not help this time around. Not after Sunday night's 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Patriots (10-4) went into it in second place in the AFC and in strong position to snare one of two conference byes. They came out in third place with the likely prospect of having to play a wild-card game. After that - should they win and move on - a road game in the divisional round might be next. Not easy.

Not that it's on their minds, though.

``I'm not even thinking about the playoffs right now,'' linebacker Rob Ninkovich said Monday. ``I'm just focusing on the next two games.''

It was a day-after-game reality the Patriots don't face very often - coping with a loss.

They had won seven straight since losing 24-23 at the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 14. They had a streak of 20 consecutive home victories in December, dating back to 2002, snapped. And they had won 21 games in a row in the second half of the schedule starting at the midpoint in 2010.

But, for coach Bill Belichick, Monday was just another day to wrap up the Patriots' latest effort and look ahead to the next one.

``I'd say we pretty much do the same thing we always do,'' he said. ``We'll look and talk about the game. We'll talk about the things that we did right and reinforce those. We'll talk about the things we did wrong and correct those. Once that's over with, we'll put this game to rest and move on to Jacksonville.''

Ah, Jacksonville.

The Jaguars (2-12) are far less formidable than the 49ers (10-3-1). Their 24-3 loss to Miami on Sunday was their seventh by at least 16 points, and guaranteed that they would have at least a tie for the worst record in franchise history (1995, 4-12).

The Patriots finish the regular season a week later against the Dolphins (6-8). If New England wins its remaining games, Denver (11-3) would have to lose one of its games - against struggling Cleveland (5-9) or Kansas City (2-12) - for the Patriots to take the No. 2 spot.

The Texans (12-2) lead the AFC and have games left vs. Minnesota (8-6) and Indianapolis (9-5).

``The seeding and all that will play out how it plays out,'' safety Steve Gregory said. ``We've still got a few games left here, so we'll just grind away and get on to the next game.''

The last one was memorable, even if the Patriots lost.

One week after routing the Texans, 42-14, the Patriots were on the other end of a lopsided score, trailing 31-3 five minutes into the third quarter. Then they scored 28 points in just over 14 minutes, a stunning comeback that tied the game at 31-31 with 6:43 left.

Only one team had won a regular-season game after trailing by 28 points and it was the 49ers. They overcame a 35-7 halftime deficit and beat New Orleans, 38-35, on Dec. 7, 1980.

But today's 49ers needed just two plays on Sunday - a 62-yard kickoff return by LaMichael James and a 38-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree - to take the lead for good.

``The way we played, we can't beat anybody,'' New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. ``We played a brutal first half and then, all of a sudden, in one quarter we came out and everything clicked. So we just have to be more consistent.''

And more careful. The Patriots had an NFL-low 10 giveaways going into the game but committed four against the 49ers.

``We did enough things to make it a competitive game in the end,'' Belichick said, ``but we had too many things that weren't good enough.''

The Patriots did show an ability to rally from a huge deficit, though. They may need to show that skill again, later on.

``I love the way that we fought the whole game and, again, you can't put yourself in a hole like we did early in the game and expect to win those games,'' Ninkovich said. ``Obviously, you don't want to have that feeling of a loss, but, again, I just go back to taking this as a learning experience.''

Of course, it might come at the expense of a bye.

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The 7 craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season

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USA TODAY Sports

The 7 craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season

From massive comebacks to cartwheels, to rabid bats and even the rare signs of life from Northwestern's offense, this weeks' college football action truly had it all.

Here are the seven craziest things that happened in Week 12 of the college football season.

Ohio lineman does cartwheel during a play

MACtion was in full swing on Tuesday with a game between Western Michigan and Ohio. Unless you went to either of those schools, you probably don't care. I bring it up, however, because of one glorious play in which an offensive lineman did a cartwheel.

This wasn't a fun touchdown celebration, this wasn't a taunt after a big play. This was, the ball is snapped, the play is being run and this dude straight up does a cartwheel while people around him are playing actual football.

Make no mistake, this was planned. That was an actual play in Ohio's playbook. He did it immediately off the snap. Quarterback Nathan Rourke threw a 25-yard completion on the play so I guess you would have to say it worked. Hopefully, that means more of this in the future.

Michigan State wore their helmets on the bus to the Michigan game

Trying to motivate a group of college kids throughout an entire season is tough. Some coaches are masters at it. There are some techniques, however, that fall flat. I think you can put this one in the latter category.

Michigan State played rival Michigan on Saturday and the Spartans got off the bus on the way to the game with their helmets already strapped on. I guess the message was supposed to be that they were ready to play. The message that actually sent was, we are all out of ideas so here's something we will be mocked for when it doesn't work.

Michigan State lost to Michigan 44-10.

There were rabid bats at Mississippi State

First off, here's wishing the Alabama quarterback a speedy recovery. As it was the biggest story of the week, I would be remiss not to mention it when talking about the Alabama-Mississippi State game.

Tagovailoa's injury overshadowed what I thought would be the biggest story coming out of Starkville: rabid bats.

From great catch to miraculous fumble

This was just whacky. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor made an incredible one-handed catch as he grabbed a ball thrown behind him. A great play quickly turned into a disaster as he turned up the field and tucked the ball, but immediately had it punched out for a fumble.

We have all seen players tiptoe down the sideline, but not often do you see a ball do it. Luckily for Nebraska, Lamar Jackson pounced on the loose ball while the rest of his teammates stood watching seemingly oblivious to the fact that the ball was live.

Columbia had a punt blocked by the butt of its own player

You have heard of the butt fumble, but how about the butt punt block?

Northwestern scores 45 points

What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object? That was the question on everyone's mind in Evanston when Northwestern met UMass.

Northwestern's offense entered the week averaging 11.1 points per game. That's not just the worst scoring offense among Power 5 teams this year, it is the worst of the decade. Its previous season-high for points was 30 which it scored against UNLV. So how in the world did the Wildcats manage to put up 45 points? Because UMass just so happens to be one of the worst teams in the FBS this year.

Running back Evan Hull went off for Northwestern with 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns to give the illusion of a competent offense. That won't last as next week they play Minnesota.

Oklahoma overcame a 25-point deficit to beat Baylor

Oklahoma has an illustrious history. Since 1895, the Sooners have won seven national titles. One thing they had never done? Overcome a 25-point deficit.

Oklahoma did just that on Saturday on the road against an undefeated Baylor team and without its top wide receiver in CeeDee Lamb. Somehow, the Sooners managed to rally to win the game 34-31 with an incredible second-half performance to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.

McClung lifts Georgetown past Georgia St. 91-83

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McClung lifts Georgetown past Georgia St. 91-83

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mac McClung had 25 points, Omer Yurtseven had a double-double, and Georgetown topped Georgia State 91-83 on Sunday night.

McClung made all 11 of his foul shots and Yurtseven finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Josh LeBlanc added 12 points James Akinjo scored 11 points for Georgetown (3-1).

Corey Allen had 21 points for the Panthers (1-3). Josh Linder added 17 points and Justin Roberts and Damon Wilson scored 15 points apiece.

Georgetown faces Texas on Thursday. Georgia State plays Prairie View on Friday.

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