The Patriots were going to have to worry about 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith anyway.
But since they won’t see him until tonight on Sunday Night Football, they have to be extra careful.
Smith has a league-high 19.5 sacks this season, but 10 of them have come in four prime-time games, including his 5.5-sack outburst against the Bears on a Monday.
“Those Friday night lights,”Smith said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “You knew it was showtime. It’s just that feeling you get again from being under that spotlight.”
Of course, he’s playing against a guy who has been fairly successful himself under the lights.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been sacked just 20 times this season, and leads the league’s highest-scoring offense.
So it’s natural for him to be highlighted, but Smith admitted surprise at being used as the face of the 49ers in NBC’s promos for the game.
“I just had one word – ‘Wow,’ ” Smith said. “I didn’t know what to say. . . . It’s Tom Brady. He’s won Super Bowls. Me? I just got here.”
If he can keep getting there tonight, the attention is only going to grow.