BOSTON (CBS) — Sunday was an emotional up and down game for the Patriots in San Francisco, looking good at times while others stretches were tough to watch.

But getting another win — their eighth of the season — is all that really matters in the end. The Patriots are now guaranteed to finish the season with a record of .500 or better for the 16th straight year.

Here are your Gold Stars and Penalty Flags from Sunday’s 30-17 victory:

Gold Stars

Tom Brady gets a gold star. Had Brady just gone home to the Bay Area and kept his emotions in check, he would have landed in this column. He did that and more, throwing four touchdowns while putting on a show for his hometown fans.

His ability to slide up in the pocket and keep plays alive is an art form. It’s hard to believe he’s 39 years old and playing so well. He’s the best in the business.

Malcolm Mitchell gets a gold star. A lot of people looked at this game as the one for the rookie to get some catches and make a difference. He did with four catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. On Sunday, he looked like the player who everybody saw in training camp.

Mitchell has given the Pats a reliable backup receiver with break away speed.

The Pats’ pass rush gets a gold star. They finished with five sacks and it finally looked like they were getting a push. There were safety blitzes, there were corner blitzes — I just like the fact the Patriots blitzed.

Nothing is solved on the Patriots defense and they still have their warts, but they did look better against the 49ers.

Patriots fans get a gold star. I feel like I mention this every other week. Another game on the road and the stands were packed with Patriots fans. They absolutely took over Levi’s Stadium. The chants for Brady could be heard throughout the broadcast.

Patriots Nation is alive and well. Next stop: New York (New Jersey) and then Denver.

Penalty Flags

– This is going to be confusing, but Tom Brady gets a penalty flag. There were points in the game where I felt he was forcing the ball to Julian Edelman. Jules, also making his Cali homecoming, was targeted 17 times. 17!!! Really???

He wasn’t open on many of those plays, and it wasn’t until Brady started spreading the rock around that the offense got on a roll. Brady can get fixated on one player at times, and he did that for about two and a half quarters on Sunday.

Nate Solder gets a penalty flag. The left tackle was flagged for a couple of holding calls that erased some big plays, cementing a tough game for Nate. Brady’s need to move in the pocket was mainly because Solder kept getting beat.

Solder is usually better, he just wasn’t on Sunday.


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