But for Aldon Smith, the night could cost him the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award.
Smith was nearly a non-factor against the Patriots, who keyed on him throughout the game to make sure he didn't get to Tom Brady.
Not only would he finish with zero sacks, but the 49ers themselves would only sack Brady three times. What Smith does have to his credit is an interception and a pass deflection, but only one tackle.
His fellow Defensive Player of the Year candidates Von Miller and J.J. Watt both had to go into Foxborough to play the Patriots as well. Watt played against the Patriots last week and despite Houston coming out of their game humbled by a 42-14 loss, he was able to gain nine tackles and hit Brady three times.
In Miller's outing against the Patriots way back in Week 5, he managed eight tackles, two sacks, five tackles for a loss and a pass deflection.
Smith being held to such a low yardage also came on the wrong day. Watt had a huge afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts, collecting 10 tackles and three sacks. Miller and the Broncos took on the Ravens, where he would add three tackles and one for a loss to his totals on the season.
Smith was already handicapped in this race due to how good the 49ers defense has been this season and last. While Smith didn't have a stellar game, the rest of the defense did thanks to the room they got from Smith being double-teamed by the Patriots.
This argument over who should be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year will continue the season, and Smith still has a shot at breaking Michael Strahan's single-season sack record as he's three sacks away. But his candidacy took a major hit in New England while Watt and Miller were great when going against their opposition.
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