In a potential Super Bowl match-up come February, this game lived up to the hype. With this game having seven lead changes and coming down to the very last play, it was a well fought game from both the Patriots and the Seahawks. But in the end, the Seahawks came into Foxboro and got perhaps a little revenge in the Patriots home after what happened in Super Bowl 49. Overall, it was an exciting and at times nail-biting game between two of it, if not the two best teams in football.
In a game against two of the best scoring defenses in the NFL (Seattle was third with 16.8 points per game & the Patriots were second with 16.5 points per game), these two teams combined for 55 points and over 800 yards of offense. The Seahawks would come away with the most points and yards given up by the Patriots this season with 31 points and 420 yards. On the flip side, the Patriots had 24 points and 385 yards of offense. Between two rather tough defenses, this game was determined by the better offense this time around.
For the Seahawks, they had been struggling at times this season on offense in both passing and running the ball. In fact, the Seahawks were 30th in the NFL with 75.4 rushing yards per game after finishing third in 2015 with 141.8 yards per game. Tonight, they had 96 yards rushing. 66 of those yards came from emerging rookie C.J. Prosise, who also contributed with 87 yards receiving as well. Christine Michael would finish with 22 rushing yards, who has seen his production dip since the return of Prosise from a hand injury. Russell Wilson would continue to struggle running the ball as he only had three carries for six yards in total. Wilson, who has dealt with various lower-body injuries this season, has not been the productive runner we are used to seeing and he showed that again tonight.
However, Wilson had a huge night throwing the ball in what was his best game of the season passing wise. He had 348 yards and three touchdowns passing on 25 of 37 passing. He made countless impressive passes, including all three of his touchdown throws going to star wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Three of his six receptions were touchdowns tonight, ending up with 59 yards as well. Tyler Lockett was also a factor with three receptions for 72 yards, coming up on a few big plays tonight when he was needed. Prosise was technically the team’s leading receiver on top of their leading rusher as he finished with 87 yards receiving. Jermaine Kearse saw seven targets but only came away with two receptions for 26 yards as he was focused on a lot in the first half before being quiet to finish the game. Star tight end Jimmy Graham was held in check with only 48 yards on four receptions.
Despite employing one of the weakest, if not the worst offensive line in football, the Seahawks only gave up three sacks all night. They did allow five quarterback hits, but did cause to Wilson to rely on his mobility to keep him upright in the face of pressure. The Patriots seemed more aggressive on times in their pass rush, but they couldn’t necessarily capitalize fully on a very porous Seahawks offensive line. They had opportunities for more sacks throughout the game but were unable for the most part in bringing down the very shifty Wilson. Overall, this was the Seahawks best offensive showing of the season against a difficult Patriots defense.
For the Patriots, this was an off game in the passing offense category. Tom Brady entered tonight with 12 touchdown passes in his first four games of the season but ended up with no touchdown throws tonight. He also threw his first interception of the season on a poorly thrown lob pass into double coverage. It was not the most impressive showing for Brady, who seemed hobbled at times after taking an illegal hit in the knee/thigh area from Kam Chancellor early in the game. Brady stayed in the game but was seen using a heating pad on it at times on the sidelines and being in visible pain as well.
Brady would finish with 316 yards passing and one interception on 23 of 32 passing while only being sacked twice against an extremely talented Seahawks front seven. The Seahawks were without Michael Bennett but still had Frank Clark and Cliff Avril at their disposal. Despite that, Brady had some nice pockets to work with throughout the night and didn’t necessarily see as much pressure as expected. The Seahawks only managed four quarterback hits all night but did a good job in pass protection of not allowing any touchdowns. The Patriots leading receivers were Martellus Bennett and Julian Edelman, who both had seven receptions for 102 and 99 yards respectively. Rob Gronkowski had a quieter game with only three receptions for 56 yards. Part of the reasoning behind that may be because Gronk took a bit hit in the middle of the game and looked shaken up. He did get examined and was cleared to return to the game. Despite that, he didn’t seem as relied on afterwards.
James White saw looks early on in the game but only finished with four receptions for 32 yards while Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell combined for two receptions and 27 yards. Chris Hogan, who was questionable coming into this game, did see three targets but had no receptions. Brady and the Patriots relied mostly on Bennett, Edelman and Gronkowski as they combined for 22 of the 32 targets tonight. It wasn’t necessarily a poor showing tonight but it was the worst game Brady has had all year. Seattle’s talented secondary was in full force tonight and came up with some big stops while preventing a lot of big plays from happening.
As for the Patriots run attack, it was definitely more successful in the touchdown column. LeGarrette Blount ran the ball for 21 of the team’s 28 rushing attempts and finished with 69 yards to go with three touchdowns. Blount made some big plays throughout the night but was their go-to-guy when inside the Seahawks red-zone and made them pay with the hat trick of scores. Brady actually had five recorded rushing attempts, most coming on sneak plays but he would finish with seven yards overall. James White had the remaining two rushing attempts but finished with only five yards. Dion Lewis was widely anticipated to make his season debut tonight in nearly a year after his serious knee injury. He was activated from the PUP list yesterday but was inactive tonight as he may be just not 100% yet. Hopefully he can return next weekend against the 49ers, which would be a nice return considering the spark he has provided to the team in the past.
As for the Patriots defense, it looked atrocious at times. Their secondary and pass coverage was borderline awful as they seemed confused on coverage assignments and left too many receivers open to make big plays. Justin Coleman, Logan Ryan and even Malcolm Butler all looked very unimpressive as the Seahawks play-makers including Prosise and Baldwin seemed to simply over-match the Patriots. 31 points is the season in terms of what the Patriots had given up this season and it was nearly twice what they have allowed on average this season (came with a 16.5 points per game average). As impressive as Elandon Roberts has been over the past few games, he was beaten a few times in pass coverage as the entire defense did not prevent many plays in the passing game.
The Patriots also allowed the Seahawks into their red-zone seven times, which resulted in four field goals and three touchdowns for Seattle. The Patriots “bend not break” mentality seemed to be missing for most of the game as the Seahawks had no problem marching down the field and allowing points on seven different drives. They did turn up the pass rush at times as Trey Flowers had two sacks and Rob Ninkovich had his first sack of the season as well. Flowers, who started over Jabaal Sheard tonight, now has four sacks in the past two games and may have solidified his spot tonight. The team provided pressure all night on Wilson and the Seahawks, but Wilson’s mobility kept the Patriots from garnering more sacks.
As for the run defense, the Patriots actually performed moderately well with only 96 yards and a 3.7 yards per carry average given up. They did not allow a rushing touchdown either, which makes the Patriots run defense statistically the best aspect of their entire defense on the night. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a lot of bright spots for the Patriots defense overall.
In what might’ve been the best game of the year for the NFL, the Patriots and Seahawks put on a show in primetime. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way New England fans had hoped for. Though, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about as they faced one of the best teams in the NFL. Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll showed once again why it’s not only fun to watch them face-off but also why they are two of the best coaches in the NFL today. The Seahawks move to 6-2-1 and lead the NFC West while the Patriots drop to 7-2 and will travel to San Francisco next weekend to face the 49ers.