The New England Patriots fell to the Seattle Seahawks with a final score of 31-24.
The second half started off better than the first half as the Patriots defense forced a three-and-out. QB Tom Brady and the offense went 91-yards for another RB LeGarrette Blount touchdown to take a 21-19 lead.
The defense continued its bend-don’t-break ways by allowing the Seahawks offense inside the 10-yard line on their next two drives, but also holding them to just two field goals.
Brady suffered a knee injury and was hobbling around the field for much of the second half, although he still showed a solid command of the offense. A series of penalties, including a holding penalty against LG Joe Thuney and a false start by TE Rob Gronkowski, and an impressive sack allowed by LT Nate Solder knocked the Patriots back as they had to settle for a field goal.
The Seahawks grabbed a 25-24 lead halfway through the fourth quarter and CB Cyrus Jones returned the kickoff into Seattle territory. Jones fumbled the ball, naturally, but S Nate Ebner was able to fall on it. Even though the offense had great field position, it didn’t matter since WR Julian Edelman fumbled the ball over to the Seahawks just two plays later.
QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense started around midfield and walked down the field to score a touchdown to take a 31-24 lead. Instead of kicking the extra point and taking an 8-point lead, the Seahawks opted to go for a two-point conversion to try and win the game. They failed to convert, giving the Patriots some extra life.
Brady and the offense took over with 4:05 left on the clock from his own 25-yard line. Brady hit Edelman for 30 yards on a huge 3rd and 10 and then TE Rob Gronkowski for 26 to get down to the Seahawks goal line with a minute left on the clock.
Brady and RB LeGarrette Blount failed to sneak into the end zone on the first three downs and Brady actually fumbled the ball. As the game came down to 4th and 1 with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots needed a clutch score
Brady threw an incomplete pass to Gronkowski who was covered by S Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks held on to win 31-24.
The Patriots defense put up their worst performance of the season as Seahawks QB Russell Wilson went 25/37 for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Patriots failed to defend Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise (66 yards rushing, 87 yards receiving), while WR Doug Baldwin collected three touchdowns on the day.
There were no adjustments by the defense over the course of the game as Wilson picked apart the same match-ups over and over again. CB Logan Ryan, CB Justin Coleman, LB Dont’a HIghtower, and LB Elandon Roberts were repeatedly targeted in the passing game. The Patriots run defense failed to show up against the worst offensive line in the NFL.
The Patriots had benched ED Jabaal Sheard and ED Chris Long in favor of ED Trey Flowers (who had a monster day with two sacks) and ED Rob Ninkovich (who had a sack of his own). I wonder if this substitution is why the defense struggled against the run.
On offense, the Patriots should have been able to score on that final goal line series. The Patriots didn’t use the option routes out of the slot that has picked apart the Seahawks secondary in the past. WR Chris Hogan seemed to give up on a few deep passes and caught zero of his three targets.
RB James White picked up 32 yards on 4 receptions, with just one of those catches for 5 yards coming after the first quarter. White was always open and Brady didn’t look his way. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should have drawn up more plays to highlight White.
TE Martellus Bennett collected 102 yards for his third 100+ yard game of the season. WR Julian Edelman looked healthy, finally, and recorded 99 yards on 7 receptions. Gronkowski picked up 56 yards on 3 receptions.
The Patriots looked awful, but it’s important to note that the Seahawks are one of the top three or four teams in the NFL. These two teams will be the favorites to have a rematch in the Super Bowl. This reminds me a bit of when the Patriots lost to the Packers late in the 2014 season.
The Patriots fall to 7-2, but still remain atop the AFC. They will face the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers next week.