|10.14.12 at 6:22 pm ET|
The third quarter is done in Seattle. Here are a few quick notes.
‘¢Linebacker Brandon Spikes delivered another great shot on running back Marshawn Lynch on Seattle’s first play from scrimmage at the start of the third quarter, busting right up the middle and tackling him for a four-yard loss. The Patriots followed that up with another sack on rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, as linebacker Rob Ninkovich flushed him out while defensive end Chandler Jones cleaned things up, bringing him down for his fifth sack of the season, a five-yarder that would eventually lead to a Seattle punt. (Overall, it was a great quarter for the New England defense, as the Seahawks had just two first downs in the quarter, and they came on back-to-back plays.)
‘¢On the ensuing series, the Patriots answered with an eight-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. The highlight of the sequence was a 27-yard connection to tight end Daniel Fells that got the Patriots to the Seattle 19. Four plays later, Gostkowski banged home the field goal that gave New England a 10-point lead. (The Patriots also got a key seven-yard pickup on a third and 6 when running back Danny Woodhead delivered a great second effort to reach the first-down marker.)
‘¢Late in the third, quarterback Tom Brady tried to float one down the seam to wide receiver Deion Branch, but Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman made a nice play to pick the ball off. It was just the second interception of the season by Brady, and put a stop to a drive that would have effectively ended the game for New England. The Seahawks couldn’t do anything with the gift, but it was a missed opportunity for the Patriots’ offense on that drive, and it broke a string of 179 pass attempts without an interception for the New England quarterback.
‘¢Early in the third quarter, the Patriots announced that running back Brandon Bolden left the game with a knee injury — his return is questionable.
‘¢Through three quarters., the Patriots have limited Lynch to 29 yards on 12 carries.
|10.14.12 at 5:34 pm ET|
We’re at the half in Seattle. Here are a few second-quarter notes…..
‘¢The Patriots opened the second quarter on a steady and sustained drive that began late in the first quarter, mixing the run and the pass on a 15-play drive, 80-yard sequence that took 3:59 and included a 13-yard run from Brandon Bolden and an eight-yard catch by Wes Welker. Aaron Hernandez collected a one-yard touchdown pass on a jump ball from Brady that gave the Patriots a 14-10 lead with 10:33 left in the second.
‘¢Following the touchdown, Brandon Bolden limped off after covering on the kickoff. Meanwhile, the Patriots appeared to replace Kyle Arrington with Alfonzo Dennard in their base defense. On that series, the New England defense forced its first turnover of the game when defensive end Chandler Jones beat Zach Miller on a third-down play midway through the second, knocking the ball away. Rob Ninkovich collected the fumble. It’s the latest in a series of big plays over the last few weeks for Ninkovich, who has forced three fumbles in the last two games coming into this week of action. (It was Jones’ fourth sack of the season.)
‘¢Seattle defensive back Brandon Browner delivered an absolutely hellacious — but completely clean — hit on Wes Welker on a seven-yard out route late in the second quarter. It was a shot that would have left most on the sidelines for an extended stretch, but four plays later, Welker was back on the field. (It looked like Welker got drilled in the chest.) The slot receiver would go on to haul in an 11-yard reception from Brady to keep the chains moving on third down. The drive (11 plays, 41 yards, 4:45) would end with a 25-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski that made it 17-10 with 2:12 left in the half.
‘¢After Seattle botched a punt attempt with 48 second in the first half, the Patriots tried to tack on a field goal, but on a late pass attempt Tom Brady was called for intentional grounding — which necessitated a 10-second runoff — and sent the teams to the locker room with New England holding a 17-10 lead.
‘¢Through one half, Seattle’s premiere running back Marshawn Lynch has been limited to 26 yards on nine carries.
|10.14.12 at 4:46 pm ET|
Some first-quarter notes……
‘¢After there were questions earlier in the week about the health of the Patriots’ starting offensive line, both right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and left guard Logan Mankins got the start for New England. The Patriots got tight end Aaron Hernandez early when he hauled in an eight-yard catch on the first play from scrimmage for New England. (Hernandez also made a nice catch over the middle on a 3rd down situation midway through the first quarter.)
‘¢Offensively, the highlight came in a 46-yard touchdown connection from Tom Brady to Wes Welker on a sweet route that appeared to head down the seam — Welker had a step on the defender, and Brady put it in a place where only Welker could catch it. It capped off a six-play, 82-yard drive that took 1:46 and ended with the Brady to Welker connection to give New England a 7-3 lead. The 46-yarder was the second longest TD reception of Welker’s career, trailing only the 99-yarder in last year’s opener. In addition, it was the first first-quarter touchdown allowed by the Seahawks.
‘¢With the injury to linebacker Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots have shuffled things about when it comes to their front seven. Jermaine Cunningham started at left defensive end, with Rob Ninkovich moving to strong side linebacker — Hightower’s old spot. Ninkovich was able to build on his strong performance of the last two weeks with a strong performance in the first quarter.
‘¢Defensively, the best moment came when Brandon Spikes met Marshawn Lynch in the hole, knocking him back two yards on a 3rd and 1 play, forcing a Seattle field goal. The Seahawks converted their first scoring opportunity of the game on the next play when Steven Hauschka knocked home a 34-yard field goal with 7:35 left in the first quarter, but Spikes’ hit played a big part in making sure the Seahawks were limited to three instead of a potential seven points.
‘¢The defensive low points? Likely when Russell Wilson hit on a 50-yarder down the middle to wide receiver Doug Wilson, beating Kyle Arrington in man coverage. (In addition, on the same drive, linebacker Jerod Mayo swung and missed on a tackle attempt that would have brought Wilson down shy of the first down marker on a third-down rushing attempt. Wilson’s scrambling on that play brought to mind memories of Doug Flutie, as he managed to keep a play alive with his feet.) Later on the same drive, Wilson and Baldwin hooked up on a 24-yard pass and throw for a touchdown at Arrington’s expense. It was the first first-quarter touchdown of the season allowed by the Patriots.
|10.14.12 at 2:42 pm ET|
The Patriots have announced the following seven players are inactive for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks: defensive end Jake Bequette, safety Steve Gregory, offensive lineman Matt Tennant, wide receiver Julian Edelman, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, linebacker Tracy White and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.
Going into Sunday’s game, we already knew four of the players who would be sidelined, as Edelman (hand), Hightower (hamstring), Gregory (hip) and White (foot) were all downgraded prior to Sunday afternoon because of previously known injuries.
Bequette, a rookie, has been the victim of a numbers game over much of the first five contests, and so the decision on him is no surprise. Meanwhile, Tennant has been on and off the roster over the first few weeks, and the fact that he’s out Sunday could mean good things for the depth along the interior of New England’s offensive line. And Hoomanawanui has been dealing with a concussion problem over the last couple of weeks, but has also been surpassed on the depth chart by Daniel Fells.
The list is more notable for those players who are active, namely tight end Aaron Hernandez. The third-year starter out of Florida suffered an ankle injury in a Week Two loss to the Cardinals, and has been on the shelf since then. He practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Thursday (he was sidelined Friday), and appears to be ready to give it a go Sunday against the Seahawks.
In addition, offensive linemen Logan Mankins (calf/hip) and Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) have been hobbled over the last couple of weeks — neither could finish last week’s game against the Broncos, and have been limited over the course of the week — but like Hernandez, appear to be ready to go against the Seahawks.
|10.14.12 at 1:54 pm ET|
|10.14.12 at 10:32 am ET|
It will be a typical day in Seattle as the Patriots look for their third straight win over the top-ranked defense in the NFL.
Overcast skies and showers are expected for the 4:05 p.m. ET kickoff at CenturyLink Field as the 3-2 Patriots do battle with the surprising 3-2 Seahawks. It will be a fairly mild day with temperatures in the low 60s are in the forecast. It figures to be a breezy day as well as winds out of the south at 17 mph are expected.
The game features the Patriots’ top-ranked offense against Seattle’s top-ranked defense.
The Patriots are averaging just over 439 yards per game and 33 points per game, both tops in the NFL. The Seahawks are allowing just 258.6 yards a contest and only 14 points a game. The yards allowed leads all NFL defenses while the 70 points allowed is second in the entire league.
The big injury news this week for the Patriots involves who is expected to return. After spraining his right ankle in a loss to the Cardinals at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 16, tight end Aaron Hernandez made the trip to Seattle and is expected to return after a three-game absence. However, his role could be very limited, as he did not practice Friday, and his activation for the game will depend on whether he handles pregame warmups with no setbacks.
With Hernandez out, the Patriots have rediscovered their running game, rushing for more than 200 yards in each of their last two games – both wins – against the Bills and Broncos. In fact, the Patriots are averaging 165.4 yards a game on the ground, good for third-best in the entire NFL.
Four Patriots players were ruled out before Sunday, as receiver Julian Edelman (hand), safety Steve Gregory (hip), linebacker Tracy White (foot) and rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower (hamstring) were all ruled out before the inactives came out. Edelman injured his hand against the Ravens on Sept. 23 and has missed the last two games while Gregory was injured in the win over the Bills on Sept. 30 and will be missing his second straight game.
With Seattle’s crowd noise being among the very loudest in the NFL, the Patriots have prepped all week for the expected conditions, blaring music during practice. They did so with success in preparing for the loud environments in Baltimore and Buffalo. They had the Ravens crowd out of the game for the first three quarters before losing the game in the fourth. They scored 52 points in Buffalo, including 45 in the second half, taking the crowd out of the game in both instances.
The Patriots and Seahawks played 12 times in a 14-year span from 1980-93 – when both were in the AFC – but have played just twice since. The Patriots have won both of those meetings, a 30-20 win at Gillette in 2004 and a 24-21 come-from-behind win in 2008 in the same building they’re in today. In the 2008 win, Matt Cassel led the Patriots to the victory, as New England outscored Seattle, 11-0, in the fourth quarter.
Tom Brady is quarterbacking the Patriots in Seattle for the first time. Entering today, Seattle is one of just three NFL venues Brady hasn’t played in during the regular season. San Francisco (his hometown) and Tampa Bay are the others. Brady played the Buccaneers in a “road” game in 2009 but the game – like the Rams this year – was played in London.
The Patriots are wrapping up a stretch in which they’re playing four of their first six games on the road. After playing the Jets next week at Gillette, they will conclude October with a trip to London for a game against the Rams.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, are beginning a stretch of three games in 15 days. After today’s contest, they travel to San Francisco for a game against the 49ers before heading cross-country for a game in Detroit against the Lions.
|10.14.12 at 8:37 am ET|
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