It’s been unusually quiet around here in terms of news. We’re usually used to that this time every year, but this offseason has been unlike any that we’ve experienced before, so I for one am still enjoying the break. As well as a chance to keep going on our offseason countdown.
The list so far:
20. A diving N’Keal Harry grab in the end zone makes it a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
19. A last second 51 yard Nick Folk field goal caps off a comeback win against the New York Jets.
18. Two red zone trips, zero total points against the Kansas City Chiefs.
17. A fourth down option read to James White puts the Patriots on the board against the Arizona Cardinals.
At Number 16, we have a play that, had it gone just a little bit differently, would have found itself ranked a whole lot higher on this list.
16. A last-second goal line stand prevents the Patriots from stealing a game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks.
Absolutely nobody knew what to expect from the 2020 Patriots. A new quarterback, no offseason, and COVID protocols means that this team was a complete question mark going into the year. We all knew that a Cam Newton-led offense was going to be quite different from a Tom Brady-led offense, and we all figured that it would take Cam some time to settle in and find his groove. The Patriots were able to dispatch the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, but they were at home and it was more or less expected. The real test, of sorts, was going to come when New England traveled across the country to take on the Seahawks in an eerily empty Lumen Field. Would Seattle’s homefield advantage be nullified with no crowd? Would the Patriots all get sick from flying? Could they duplicate their performance the week before? If Newton could come away from Seattle with a win to put the team at 2-0, it would be huge for both overall confidence and the prospect of possibly doing some damage this season.
As far as games go, this was undoubtedly one of the best of the season. Where the Patriots barely needed to throw at all the week before, racking up over 200 yards on the ground, the Seahawks defense wasn’t given them anything in the rushing game. Newton dropped back to pass a whopping 44 times, completing 30 of them for 397 total yards with a TD and a pick. New England and Seattle went back and forth, almost drive for drive, and went into the locker room at halftime tied at 14. Seattle was able to pull ahead with a 14 point third quarter as the New England offense stalled, and with a 28-17 lead heading into the fourth, we all couldn’t help but think back to the last time a Patriots QB was facing a double digit fourth quarter deficit against a very solid Seattle D,
New England scored on their first possession of the 4th quarter to cut the lead to 23-28, but couldn’t bring it to within three when the two point conversion attempt failed. The Seahawks and Patriots traded punts and touchdowns on their next two drives respectively, and Seattle got the ball back with just over two minutes to play with a chance to ice the game. The Patriots still had all three timeouts plus the Two Minute Warning, but one first down here would more or less end it.
Seattle gained six yards on their first play, then three yards on their next. An incompletion on 3rd and 1 meant that not only did the clock stop, but the Seahawks were facing 4th and 1 at their own 31 yard line. The D had held, and Damiere Byrd fair caught the Seattle punt at the New England 19. 81 yards to go.
Newton hit N’Keal Harry for 13 yards on first down, then Harry again for 17 two plays later. A 12 yard Newton scramble brought the ball down to the Seattle 36 with just 40 seconds to play. Newton to Edelman for 18 more brought the ball down to the 13 with nine seconds left. New England had 13 yards and a timeout standing between themselves and the comeback.
Newton hit Harry on a beautiful jump ball that would have seen him fall into the end zone had the coverage not been so solid; it was exactly the kind of play that we had been waiting for so long to see out of the young receiver. Unfortunately, Harry was tackled at the one yard line, forcing New England to burn their final timeout with just three seconds left. There was time for one more play.
If there was any indicator that the Patriots might pass here, it was immediately dismissed as New England lined up in the most Jumbo Package you’ll ever see, with Newton lined up in shotgun and Jakob Johnson behind him. Johnson motioned over to Newton’s left, and the entire Seattle defense was right up on the line of scrimmage. If Cam Newton were Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaugh from the movie Major League II, he would have been saying to the Seahawks defenders, “Well, here it comes, Parkman. The ol’ number 1, the Terminator. You get a piece, you can rename it.” It was a QB designed run. The Seahawks would either stop it and win, or they wouldn’t and lose.
At the snap, Seattle got a great jump on the line as everybody crashed down. Newton took off to the left just as DB/safety Lano Hill collapsed the edge. Johnson, who was still learning the hopes of effective fullbacking, didn’t get low enough and got bowled over by Hill, who was able to get a hand on Newton’s leg. At the same time, DE LJ Collier beat his man to clog what actually looked like a solid running lane as Newton tried to make a dive for it, stopping in the backfield for a one yard loss and the end of the game.
It was an absolutely wild finish to an absolutely wild game, and one which left most Patriots fans feeling pretty happy, I’d imagine. Everyone had this game pegged as a loss right when the 2020 schedule was announced, and that the Pats were able to come so close to getting the W there made us all think that they were already well ahead of schedule in terms of their team development. Furthermore, that they were able to run for 200 yards in Week 1 and pass for almost 400 yards in Week 2 left us all thinking that this offense had the kind of versatility and flexibility to beat anybody in the league. That didn’t turn out to be the case, obviously - but man were the first few weeks of the 2020 season fun.
Looking back on this game, you also have to wonder - if Cam had gotten in here, and had the Patriots just scored once in all of those red zone trips to KC, they would have finished the first quarter of the season at 4-0 as opposed to 2-2. You’d be hard pressed to convince me that a 4-0 Patriots team wouldn’t have looked different than a 2-2 Patriots team, particularly if two of those wins came on the road against quality opponents. But none of that happened, of course, and the fact that a few plays here and there can end up altering the landscape of the entire league is one of the many things that makes football so great.
Check out the stop here.
Full game highlights here.