Colin Kaepernick gets best of Tom Brady in crucial 49ers win

  • By Jim Reineking NFL.com
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It's tough to win on the road, it's even more impressive if it's done in adverse weather conditions and against one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game.

Greatest on the road ...

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

On a cold, rainy night in Foxborough, the 49ers displayed some heavy mettle despite a near historic collapse. The New England Patriots threatened to match the greatest comeback for victory in a regular-season game, scoring 28 unanswered points to bring the score to 31-31.

With momentum clearly in the Patriots' favor and a game seemingly getting out of control, the 49ers suddenly struck back. Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree for a 38-yard touchdown play that gave the 49ers the advantage they needed to escape Gillette Stadium with a 41-34 victory. The 49ers clinched a playoff berth with the win, and can secure a second consecutive NFC West crown with a victory against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

Kaepernick continues to show why the 49ers made a controversial midseason switch at the quarterback position. Kaepernick's clutch scoring toss to Crabtree was his fourth touchdown pass of the game (the 49ers' previous starting quarterback -- Alex Smith -- never threw for four touchdowns in a game). The 49ers are 4-1 since Kaepernick took over the starting job, including two of those wins coming in a couple of the most-difficult venues for opposing quarterbacks to play -- Gillette Stadium and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Also considered:

James Jones, Green Bay Packers

After opening this season 2-3, the Packers have won eight of their last nine games and secured a second consecutive NFC North title with a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Helping the Packers surge toward the postseason is Jones, who collected three touchdown receptions against the Bears and added to his league-leading total of 12.

Jones' contributions have been necessary, since Green Bay has played a good portion of its season without Greg Jennings and a number of games without Jordy Nelson (a duo that combined for 2,212 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011). In 2012, Jones and Randall Cobb have stepped into Aaron Rodgers' go-to receiver roles, combining for 1,514 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Sunday's win in Chicago was also big for Green Bay in that it keeps its in-division win streak intact, now winning 12 consecutive games against NFC North opponents, the longest such streak in the NFL.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Peterson's amazing recovery from last season's devastating knee injury continues to get more impressive by the week. In the Vikings' 36-22 win over the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome, Peterson rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown. It was Peterson's second 200-plus yard effort of the season (he had 210 yards in a Week 13 loss to the Packers), and his eighth consecutive game with more than 100 yards rushing.

Peterson is now within striking distance of a 28-year-old single-season rushing yardage record, Eric Dickerson's mark of 2,105 set in 1984. Peterson needs to average 94 yards a game in the Vikings' remaining two contests to become the seventh player in league history to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards, and 147 yards per game to break Dickerson's record.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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