FOXBORO -- The first half of Sunday night's game -- in which the Patriots self-destructed offensively and found themselves trailing, 24-0, at halftime -- bore an eerie resemblance to their 2009 playoff game against the Ravens. In that one, they fell behind 24-0 in the first quarter and never got off the mat, ending their season meekly with a 33-14 loss.
The second-half comeback Sunday night brought to mind a mid-December Sunday night game last season against the 49ers. In that one they found themselves trailing by an even bigger margin, 31-3, in the third quarter, then staged a furious comeback and tied the score at 34-34. But the ending was a dud, as San Francisco was able to pull out a 41-34 victory.
Those two games were on people's minds as Sunday night's game unfolded . . . the Ravens debacle in the first half, as the Pats fell further and further behind, and the 49ers barnburner in the second, as the Pats inched back in closer and closer. But in the end -- because they won, 34-31, in overtime -- this one stands alone.
The game this may most closely resemble, actually, was one that Pats fans of a certain vintage will remember: Nearly 20 years ago, on Nov. 13, 1994 at the old Foxboro (nee Sullivan, nee Schaefer) Stadium, the Pats found themselves trailing the Vikings, 20-0, late in the first half. And then Drew Bledsoe cut loose. He wound up completing 45 of 70 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns -- including the game-winner to Kevin Turner in overtime -- as they came back for a 26-20 win that sparked their playoff run. They were 3-6 heading into that game, but that victory proved to be the first of seven consecutive wins that carried them to a postseason berth . . . where, ironically, they lost to Bill Belichick's Cleveland Browns.