After Steelers' safety Ryan Clark leveled Wes Welker in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, many thought Wes would be afraid to go up the middle, that he would be looking over his shoulder on just about every play. They were DEAD...NUTS...WRONG. The haters couldn't have been more wrong about New England's mighty mite, this little wide receiver who was told his entire career he was too small to make it. There have been many games where he's proved his value to this team, but this game just had a special shine to it. Go ahead, lay some wood on Wes. He's going to fear the middle, right? You can't be more wrong. Run along please, I hear the recess bell ringing. Maybe hating is the sincerest form of flattery in the NFL.
While CB Marcus Trufant did a good job of tying up Moss (3 for 56, no TDs), Wes Welker became Matt Cassel's favorite target, racking up 12 for 134 yards. Wes didn't score any touchdowns, but he was clutch on a 2 point conversion to put the Pats 3 points up. It ultimately didn't matter, but would've been key had the Seahawks marched down the field in the last few minutes and come within field goal range.
The Seahawks didn't have as many yards in the air (205), but ex Patriot Deion Branch decided to get healthy for this game and burn us for 4 for 88 and 2 TDs including a long of 63 yards. TE John Carlson was equally dangerous with 8 for 69 and one TD with a long of 25. Seattle was chewing up our secondary big time. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Tedy Bruschi went down after a teammate hit him in the left knee during a tackle. It didn't look as bad as Brady's, but you can never tell with knee injuries. Oh, did I mention Vince Wilfork went down with a shoulder injury? 10 AM tomorrow I'm buying stock in the medical company supplying Patriots' trainers.
This was a game where stupidity mixed with some good ball was the norm for both sides. Our defense was burned on a number of occassions, allowing Seattle to rack up 7 for 12 on third down conversions and 3 for 3 in the redzone. On the other side of the ball, Cassel was pressured numerous times into bad throws. Luckily there was an absence of turnovers, but there was no positive yardage in these situations. With the Seahawks, HC Holmgren had to use up the last of his second half timeouts when 12 defensive players were on the field. It was a 3 and 5 situation and a flag would've given NE a first down, so I don't think Holmgren had a choice. This TO may not have been a difference maker, but it would've been an important tool in stopping the clock with under 2 minutes left and the ball in the Patriots' hands.
We all know Wes Welker gets the game ball on offense. There's no doubt in my mind, but Brandon Meriweather gets it for defense. In a beautiful safety blitz, Brandon shot a gap untouched and stripped the ball from Seattle QB Seneca Wallace. Richard Seymour recovered the fumble and GAME...OVER!! That was a play that kept our playoff chances alive, folks. Had Seattle won this game, we'd have our faced pressed against the glass with a 7-6 record while NY and Miami ate filet at 8-5. We now have a seat at the table and a chance at a post season.
On to the Raiders.