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Patriots Can’t Close Out Seahawks, or Anyone Else Lately

Sidney Rice catches the game winning touchdown with just over a minute left to play. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

The Seattle Seahawks upset the New England Patriots 24-23 in Seattle on Sunday. Winning by 13 in the fourth quarter, the Patriots were not able to capitalize on offensive opportunities that could have sealed the victory for them. Instead they allowed the Seahawks to get back into the game, and eventually score the go ahead touchdown with just over a minute left in the game.

First Half

The Seahawks scored first after running a terrific drive that started at their own 16 yard line. They stormed into Patriots’ territory but the drive came to a screeching halt when Brandon Spikes broke into the back field to stuff Marshawn Lynch for a loss of two on a 3rd and 1. The Seahawks settled for the field goal.

The Patriots answered back with a touchdown, as they moved down the field quickly and mostly through the air. The drive was capped off with a 46 yard catch and run to Wes Welker, who dove for the pylon to give the Patriots the 7-3 lead.

It appeared as though this game might have been a shootout when Russell Wilson and the Seahawks answered with a touchdown of their own on the very next drive. The drive was kept alive twice on 3rd down when Russell Wilson was able to roll out and find Doug Baldwin deep down field for a 50 yard completion. On another 3rd down Wilson looked as though he would be sacked, but he scrambled and broke a tackle from Jerod Mayo to get another first down. He then connected with Baldwin again, this time for a 24 yard touchdown, putting the Seahawks up 10-7.

The Patriots utilized the no huddle on their next drive, and appeared to be in control as they marched down the field with little resistance. The offense was balanced on this drive, one of the few drives that occurred, using both the pass and the run to keep Seattle off balance. Tom Brady capped off the drive with a quick fade in the end zone to the returning Aaron Hernandez to put the Patriots back on top 14-10.

After Chandler Jones forced a fumble on a sack of Russell Wilson, the Patriots were set up with terrific field position. The drive stalled when Welker was only able to get nine yards on a 3rd and 10. Stephen Gostkowski came onto kick the field goal on 4th and 1, and split the uprights extending the lead to 17-10.

The Patriots were once again set up with terrific field position when Seattle punter Jon Ryan fumbled the snap and was sacked. They drove to the three yard line but the drive came to an abrupt end when Brady was flagged for intentional grounding. The penalty incurred a 10 second runoff, and with only one second remaining the half ended and the Patriots scored no points.

Second Half

The Patriots tacked on two more field goals to give themselves the 23-10 lead in the fourth quarter. However the Seahawks did not quit. Sidney Rice took a hand off and then threw deep to Golden Tate, who caught the ball in front of Devin McCourty, and Brandon Spikes was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a blow to the head to Wilson. The 15 yards were tacked on at the end of the play, turning it into a 66 yard play. The drive was capped off with a touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards. The touchdown was questionably as Alfonzo Dennard was flagged for interference, but it seemed as though Edwards was the one who got away with a push off.

The Patriots offense had two drives to seal the win, but they appeared stagnant and couldn’t move the ball on the Seattle defense. One drive was hindered by another Brady intentional grounding penalty, and the other drive consisted of two short runs and an incomplete pass.

The Seahawks took over with great field position after Zoltan Mesko punted the ball poorly and only to the 20 yard line. Leon Washington returned it to the Seattle 43 to give the Seahawks a terrific starting position with well over two minutes left to play. The Seahawks took the lead late when Sidney Rice put a double move on Tavon Wilson and ran right down the middle of the field catching the 46 yard bomb from Russell Wilson in the end zone. The score gave the Seahawks the 24-23 lead and the victory.

Notes and Observations from Week 6

– This offense is something to worry about. As talented a group as they are, dating back to last season they have had serious difficulty closing teams out at the end of the game. The defense continued to get the ball back for the offense whether it was turnovers or stops, but Brady looked like he didn’t know what was coming all game. He threw a plethora of ground balls, over throws, and just plain looked over matched. He threw two interceptions but he could have easily thrown 4 or 5 yesterday. There were at least three separate occasions where defenders had the ball slip through their fingertips. The two intentional grounding penalties cost the offense dearly, especially at the end of the first half when even a field goal would have been the difference in this game. I understand they had to account for the sound in the stadium which is most likely why we didn’t see the offense we saw last week, but they didn’t look prepared for anything the Seahawks were throwing at them yesterday, and that is a bad sign moving forward.

– People may be inclined to blame the defense on this one, but I will come to their defense. They continued to make stops and gave the offense plenty of opportunities to ice this game, but potential scoring drives were stopped by two interceptions and two intentional grounding penalties. Brady literally threw four drives away, and you cannot win on the road when your star quarterback plays that poorly.

– The one qualm I have with this defense is the play of the safeties. Aside from the first drive by the Seahawks, they didn’t maintain drives and march down field. However, they did just throw it as far as they could and beat the safeties down the middle. The middle of the field has been this defense’s weakness as they are built to have safeties keep plays in front of them. For a defense that is built to not give up the big play, that was their biggest weakness yesterday. Whenever Wilson rolled out of the pocket, the defense broke down and the safeties were beat deep. Hopefully this can be corrected.

– No one expected the Patriots to be 3-3 after six games, but that is exactly what they are. They are a 3-3 team that easily could be 6-0. They have lost three games by a total of four points. It’s good and bad in the sense that they are showing they are going to be in it until the end, but they are also showing some issues closing teams out at the end of the game. The week 7 match-up against the Jets just got a whole lot more interesting now that first place is on the line.

About Steve Bastek - @sbastek12

Graduate of Bridgewater State University with a BA in Communication studies. I've been a Boston sports fan all my life and enjoy having the opportunity to write about it.

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One comment for “Patriots Can’t Close Out Seahawks, or Anyone Else Lately”

  1. Great article. What’s the word on whether they are going to pay Welker or not?

    Posted by Ryan Montgomery | October 16, 2012, 8:04 pm

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