Patriots Rally to Defeat Seahawks at Home
Despite leading the game for over 57 minutes, the Seahawks lose 24-21 to the Patriots in the final minutes of the game. Seneca Wallace passed for all three scores, two of which to Deion Branch.
But it would be tough to discount the fact that this loss felt different than any of the other 10 suffered by the Seahawks (2-11) this season.
"The easy thing to write or say is that we lost another close ball game," cautioned coach Mike Holmgren. "That is what has happened the last few times we have been at home, with an ending like that, where we turn the ball over when we had the ball and a chance to go down and score.
"I personally feel that this game is a lot different than that. I think the players played a good football game against a good team, but we fell short. I was proud of how we played."
Unlike those other losses, the Seahawks played well in all three phases of the game and held the lead for almost the entirety of 60 minutes.
It was with 2:50 left in regulation when the Patriots (8-5) took their first lead of the game. On fourth and goal at the Seattle one, Sammy Morris dove into the endzone over the left side for the go-ahead touchdown and then Wes Welker converted on a two-point reception to capture a 24-21 advantage.
Nearing the two-minute warning, Seneca Wallace took the field without any timeouts. He was having his best outing of the season already connecting on three scores with no interceptions and completing 20-of-28 passes on the day. The final minutes, however, were not be exemplary of this effort.
On second and 11, the Patriots showed a defense which both Wallace and Deion Branch knew they could exploit. As he dropped back to pass, Brandon Meriweather gained quick penetration and forced the fumble sack. Richard Seymour recovered the ball for New England and Matt Cassel knelt out the clock to end the game.
The fumble was a glaring blemish on an otherwise good day for Wallace and the Seahawks. At many points they showed glimpses of the potential that many fans, players, and coaches alike expected at the beginning of this season.
"We know we have a good team. We know that. We just need to find a way to finish a game."
~ WR Deion Branch
Branch faced his former team and also had his best performance of the season.
He hauled in two scores on four catches and had 88 yards mainly thanks to a highlight reel 63-yard reception where he made newly-signed Junior Seau miss on a brilliant stop and start and then weaved his way through a maze of Patriot jerseys and great downfield blocks.
Nonetheless, Branch was obviously disappointed with the final outcome.
"The biggest thing is that I would rather take one catch and win the game," explained Branch, "than to have four catches and all that other stuff that went on in the game (and lose).
"It's a sad thing for me to see these guys fighting so hard, each and every day at practice, and then for us to go out and pretty much win three quarters, then lose the game in the end ... you almost would rather lose by three touchdowns than to lose that way."
One surprise most people did not expect at the beginning of 2008 has been the play of John Carlson who continued his campaign for rookie of the year with eight catches and a touchdown. He remains a bright spot on the Seahawks offense this season and one of many in this game.
"We know that the Seahawks season is not going the way we expected," explained Wallace, "so we just go out there and hang loose and have fun. If guys can step in and just play football, and do the same things they have been doing since they were little kids, then good things can happen, and we had some good things happen for us today."
The Seahawks have three games remaining on their schedule and Mike Holmgren has one left to coach at Qwest Field. Seattle heads to St. Louis to face the Rams next Sunday, December 14 at 10am PST then return for Holmgren's last home game against Brett Favre and the Jets on December 21.
"This is a very, very difficult year," explained Holmgren about the effort of his team Sunday. "I think the deeper you get into a season like this, it becomes more difficult for the coaches and players. What I have tried to emphasize is the fact that we always fight to the end. This game showed that the players are giving everything they've got. And that's good."
Insider Look Back
On fourth and goal at the one yard line, the Patriots took their first lead of the game with 2:50 left in regulation on a Sammy Morris plunge. The Seahawks failed to respond turning over the ball in the subsequent drive. Without timeouts left for Seattle, the Patriots kneeled the ball to end the game.
Offensive player of the game
Deion Branch scored twice and gained 88 yards on four catches against his former team, including a highlight reel sequence where he weaved through a maze of defenders and blockers for a 63 yard gain. He capped that same drive with a one-handed touchdown grab.
Defensive player of the game
Marcus Trufant had five tackles on the day and shut down Randy Moss for the better part of the game allowing only three catches to the All-Pro receiver.
Special teams player of the game
Jon Ryan had five punts today and pinned three of them inside the 20. The punt coverage was excellent as well holding Welker to an average of 6 yards on 3 returns.
Spurred by a Jabar Gaffney 28-yard reception and a Randy Moss 33-yarder, the Patriots brought the ball to the Seattle nine. On two running plays that netted four yards, the Patriots went to Moss in the corner on third down. Trufant stuck to Moss like a stone on an endzone fade prevented the receiver to get within arms reach of Cassel's floater. Gostkowski converted on a 27-yard field goal, his third, and New England was now within a touchdown of the lead.
New England managed to get the ball back and Cassel took over at his own 29. The Patriots converted on third down three times in the series and moved the ball down to the Seattle 6 yard line. The Seahawks defense held the Patriots to third down and on fourth and one, Coach Bill Belichick decided to go for it. Sammy Morris ran off left tackle and leaped over for the score and up one point, the Patriots went for two. Cassel connected with Wes Welker four times on the drive as the tandem combined for 47 yards and finished with the successful two-point conversion. With just under three minutes left in the game the Patriots were ahead by a field goal, 24-21.
With no timeouts left and down by three, Wallace and the Seahawks took the field with 2:50 remaining in regulation. As the two-minute warning approached, Wallace scrambled for a 23-yard gain to start the drive. Two plays later the game was over. Sacked by Brandon Meriweather on second down, Wallace lost the fumble and the Patriots regained possession. With no recourse to stop the clock, the Seahawks watched helplessly as tje Patriots knelt the ball to end the game.
After converting on two third and shorts to open the half, Leonard Weaver busted a 28-yard run off the right tackle and the Hawks seemed to be in the driver's seat again. However, the long run was negated by a holding call and though Seattle was able to put themselves in another third and manageable situation, Jon Ryan came out for his second punt on the day.
The next Patriot drive took 12 plays and netted a field goal to narrow the lead to 14-13. During that series, Trufant continued a great day covering New England's all-pro receiver, and broke up a sure touchdown to Moss in single coverage. Julian Peterson deflected the ball at the line of scrimmage on third down and Gostkowski drilled the 42-yard field goal.
Wilson took the kickoff from the Seattle 8 but fumbled the ball at the 22. Fortunately, the Seahawks recovered but a holding call on their first play put them in another hole. With first down and 20 to go, Wallace was forced out of the pocket and rolled to his right. He found Deion Branch on the sideline and dumped it to his receiver as the play broke down.
Branch made newly-signed linebacker, Junior Seau miss and then weaved his way 63 yards down the field through a maze of Patriot jerseys and great downfield blocking. New England coach Belichick challenged the play saying that Branch's foot was out of bounds where he caught the ball. The play was upheld and the Seahawks possessed the ball at the New England nine. Two plays later, Wallace returned to Branch for another score on an amazing one-handed catch in single coverage. With the crowd at a frenzy, Seattle lead the New England Patriots 21-13.
Insider at the Half
Halftime at a Glance
Seahawks 14, Patriots 10
Seneca Wallace looked sharp in his first two drives and produced two touchdowns for his effort, the first to Deion Branch and the second two John Carlson. Wallace was 11-of-15 for 91 yards at the half. Carlson already has 49 yards on five catches and a touchdown.
Turning point of the Half
Nearing the two-minute warning, on third and 10, the Seahawks blitzed Brian Russell who crossed the line of scrimmage cleanly. Baracka Atkins picked up the sack and instead of driving for a score in the last two minutes, the Patriots were forced to punt the ball, and more importantly, the Hawks maintained their 4-point lead into the locker room.
After marching down the field using the tandem of Leonard Weaver and Maurice Morris, Seneca Wallace lofted a corner pass into the hands of Deion Branch to cap a nearly flawless opening drive. The play put the Seahawks out in front 7-0 after the Hawks stopped the Pats in their opening drive and it seemed to set the tone for the second Seahawks drive which also produced a touchdown.
Wallace looked sharp again on his second drive of the game hitting on 5 of 6 passes and rushing for 11. He hooked up twice on the drive with rookie tight end John Carlson for a total of 35 yards including a 10-yard touchdown connection.
Patriot Ellis Hobbs returned the ensuing kickoff for 55 yards and then on 3rd and 2 New England put themselves just inside the red zone on a quarterback keeper. A combination of Lamont Jordan and Sammy Morris grounded out the majority of this particular drive but a pass interference call on Marcus Trufant covering Randy Moss placed the ball on the Seahawks two-yard line. On the next play, Matt Cassel found his tightend Benjamin Watson in the back of the endzone on play-action and the Patriots were back within four of the Hawks.
The following drive was not as fruitful for the Seahawks as the first two as pressure finally got to Wallace as he failed to hook up with Engram to convert on third down. It was the first missed third-down conversion of the game for the Seahawks with 6:50 left in the half.
Just before the two-minute warning on third and 10, the Seahawks blitzed Brian Russell caused Cassel to scramble into the arms of Baraka Atkins for the sack. The 22-yard punt put the ball on the Seattle 31 and though the Hawks did not gain a first down, they did eat up 1:19 off the clock and force the Patriots to burn all three timeouts. As the half expired, the rain began to fall and the Seahawks were ahead of the Patriots 14-10, only their third lead at the half this season.
Seneca Wallace capped the Seahawks opening drive with a 14-yard pass to Deion Branch in the end zone. It may have been the most impressive drive of the season marching 87 yards in 13 plays and averaging over six yards a play. Wallace passed for 30 yards on the drive and even showed his mobility rushing 13 yards on a first down scamper. For Branch it was his first touchdown since December 16, 2007 at Carolina.
Seattle's defense bent but did not break as they stopped New England's second drive at the Seahawks' 32 and Stephen Gostkowski punched a 50-yard field goal to bring the score to 7-3 in favor of the home team. During the series, Julian Peterson sniffed out a screen play at dropped Kevin Faulk for a 4-yard loss, stifling the Patriot momentum and putting the Patriots in a 3rd and long situation which they did not convert.
This and That
Seahawks won the coin toss and deferred to the second half ... Patriots choose to receive and will defend the south end zone ... Inactive for Seattle today K Brandon Coutu, QB Matt Hasselbeck, SS C.J. Wallace, LB Leroy Hill, T Na'Shan Goddard, T Walter Jones, DT Red Bryant, DE Brandon Miller ... Inactive for the Patriots WR Kelly Washington, LB Vince Redd, LB Pierre Woods, T Wesley Britt, TE David Thomas, DL Ty Warren ... The Sound Wave, Seattle Sounders FC's (MLS) new marching band played the half time show ... 68,077 in attendance ... 11 is the most a Mike Holmgren team has ever lost in a season ... Former quarterback Sam Adkins rose the 12th MAN Flag at Qwest Field prior to kickoff