Snap Judgments: Patriots shocked by Seahawks
|10.14.12 at 7:27 pm ET|
The Patriots were shocked by the Seahawks Sunday afternoon in Seattle, as New England held a fourth quarter lead but couldn’t finish off the Seahawks, who posted the 24-23 win over the Patriots.
New England quarterback Tom Brady, who struggled in the rain for large portion of the contest, finished 36-for-58 for 395 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. But it was Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson who stole the show, engineering a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to help the Seahawks post the victory. The Wisconsin product ended up going 16-fot-27 for 293 yards with three touchdowns in the win.
Here are a few quick notes:
WHAT WENT WRONG
‘¢As was the case three times in the last four games — with the Buffalo game being the lone exception — the Patriots flamed out down the stretch. New England had a 23-10 lead midway through the fourth, but had to sweat it out down the stretch and ultimately ended up losing the game because of their inability to close. It’s becoming a recurring theme for this team, which is now tied with the Jets for first place in the AFC East with New York coming to Foxboro next weekend.
‘¢There were issues all around, but there were several times in the fourth quarter where it appeared that the Patriots were playing not to lose instead of to win. There was tentative play on both sides of the ball as New England struggled in all aspects of the game down the stretch. It was a team loss for the Patriots.
‘¢Defensive back Kyle Arrington struggled in coverage early. In the first quarter, Wilson hit on a 50-yarder down the middle to wide receiver Doug Wilson, beating Arrington in man coverage. 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.) Arrington was sent to the sidelines soon after that, and was only seen in packages with multiple defensive backs.
‘¢Brady struggled with his accuracy at several points throughout the afternoon — at one point, Erik Scalavino of Patriots Football Weekly had him for six underthrown passes through the fist three-plus quarters. Much of that was likely due to the rainy conditions, which usually mean slippery footballs.
‘¢In hindsight, the mismanaged clock at the end of the first half for the Patriots was really unforgivable, particularly in a tight game. After Seattle botched a punt at the end of the first half, New England had the ball in the Seahawks’ red zone, but the Patriots were unable to punch it in. Brady tried to fling it toward the end zone with six seconds left, but was called for intentional grounding. The Patriots’ chances of trying a late field goal were wiped from the board, as the penalty necessitated a 10-second runoff, and subsequently, the end of the half. A missed opportunity for New England.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
‘¢The Patriots were able to pile up gobs of yardage in the passing game utilizing Wes Welker (10 catches, 138 yards, one touchdown), Brandon Lloyd (six catches, 80 yards) and Rob Gronkowski (6 catches, 61 yards). Welker in particular had a tremendous game. Seattle defensive back Brandon Browner delivered an absolutely hellacious — but completely clean — hit on 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 New England run defense did a terrific job bottling up Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, with linebacker Brandon Spikes dictating the tempo for much of the afternoon — he delivered a great shot on 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. Lynch finished with a season-low 41 yards on 15 carries.
‘¢There were other positive aspects to the New England defense as well. Rob Ninkovich, who spent most of the game at linebacker (with Dont’a Hightower on the shelf) combined with defensive end Chandler Jones to really do a good job getting after Wilson. Jones had a pair of sacks, and Ninkovich was in the Seattle backfield for much of the afternoon. Linebacker Jerod Mayo and Ninkovich forced fumbles on the afternoon.