Seahawks stun Patriots for comeback win
Monday, October 15, 2012
Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. Unfortunately in this case, the Patriots were neither.
Down by 13 points in the 4th quarter, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson pitched his Seahawks to a heart-stopping, almost unbelievable 24-23 comeback win over the New England Patriots Sunday in Seattle.
Unbelievable, because the Patriots had the Seahawks right where they wanted them, with multiple chances to put the game away while the defense held their own. But ultimately, the offense came up empty when they needed a big play. And the defense?
It finally came apart at the seams.
The matchup between the Patriots' No. 1 ranked offense and Seattle's No. 1 defense instead turned into a shootout at the end, including a starring performance from rookie QB Wilson. In the past, Bill Belichick-led defenses have made life very tough for young quarterbacks...and for the better part of two quarters in this game, that was again the case. The problem, however, was the Patriots' offense. Leading throughout most of the game, and with numerous chances to apply the knockout punch with a potential-clinching score in the 4th quarter, New England fired blanks.
In return, the defensive secondary then sprang a huge leak, allowing Wilson to look like the legendary Joe Montana on the field, connecting on a 46 yard TD pass to Sidney Rice with just over a minute remaining to bring Seattle all the way back from 13 points down in the final quarter.
There would be no comeback for Tom Brady this time, either. The Patriots (3-3) were stopped on fourth down at their 28 when Wes Welker came up 2 yards short after pulling in a Brady pass, and the Seahawks (4-2) were then able to celebrate the unlikely comeback.
The failure of the offense to apply a knockout punch has been a consistent problem for the Patriots so far this season. A 2nd half lead on the road at Baltimore also dissipated into a one-point defeat, just like this 2nd half lead did. And once the extra-loud Seattle crowd sensed a comeback could be possible, they made their presence known.
The Patriots actually did a solid job of taking the Seattle crowd out of the game most of the way...even after the Seahawks grabbed a 10-7 lead in the first quarter following a 7-play, 85 yard drive. Wilson hit Doug Baldwin from 24 yards out with 1:50 to go in the period for the lead. From there, the Pats controlled the game...until the final few minutes.
Aaron Hernandez' return was marked by catching a one-yard scoring pass from Brady in the second quarter, and Stephen Gostkowski tacked on a 25 yard field goal for a 17-10 NE lead at halftime. It should have been a much bigger lead, after the defense sacked Seattle punter Jon Ryan at his own 24 following a fumbled snap. But with :40 seconds remaining to move for at least a field goal, the Patriots misplayed the huge gift into an even bigger gaffe, as Brady was called for intentional grounding in the end zone with less than 10 seconds to play. The penalty is a run-out of the clock...and the missed chance at the three points (at least) proved very costly.
The third quarter provided more missed opportunities for Brady and the offense, while the defense held the Seahawks in check. Gostkowski managed a 35 yard field goal to make it 20-10 with 9:21 remaining in the period, but two more possessions in the period did not add to the scoring total. In the meantime, Seattle was figuring their best chance to jump back into it was not by running behind Marshawn Lynch, but by throwing the ball - deep - and it eventually worked.
After Gostkowski hit a 35 yard field goal to make it 23-10 with 9:21 to play, the Seahawks got started. Wilson found Golden Tate for a 51 yard completion, burning Devin McCourty for the big gain. An extra 15 yards was tacked on for unnecessary roughness, and four plays later, Wilson hit Braylon Edwards on a 10-yard scoring play to pull within 23-17, and 7:21 remaining. Again, the Patriots' offense could have put the game away with a drive scoring any kind of points...but they could not produce. Twice. Ultimately, the Seahawks got the ball back at their own 43 with 2:38 left on the clock.
Plenty of time, and you only need one opportunity. They got it, too. Wilson found Rice wide open up the middle of the field from 46 yards out for what proved to be the game winning score, burning the Pats secondary again...and putting some serious fire to the early-season optimism for this Patriots' team.
In the past, the Patriots have usually managed to find a little luck to help them out when they needed it, but more often than not...they were simply good enough to manufacture whatever luck they needed. It appears at this stage of the 2012 season, these Patriots aren't as lucky...or good enough, either.
Post Game Notes
Wilson finished 16 of 27 for 293 yards, the best day of his young career. He added Brady to an impressive list of quarterbacks he's topped this year: Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton...Brady finished 36 of 58 for 395 yards (a new career high in attempts) and touchdown passes of 1 yard to Hernandez and 46 yards to Welker in the first half. Welker had 10 catches for 138 yards, his fourth straight game over 100; he also extended his streak to 100 straight regular season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins. Welker has a streak of 83 straight regular-season games with at least one reception as a member of the Patriots to extend his franchise record...Brady topped 300 yards passing for the 49th time, but was intercepted in the second half by Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas after going 179 attempts without being picked off. One of Brady's interceptions came in the end zone, yet another squandered chance by the Patriots...Seattle gained 158 yards in the first quarter then just 70 in the second and third quarters combined...overall, the Pats had 475 yards of total offense to 368 for Seattle...first round pick Chandler Jones had his first NFL two-sack game to increase his team-lead to five sacks on the year. He also has three forced fumbles...