Seahawks Survive Nail-Biter, Stay Undefeated with Goal Line Stop vs. Patriots
With less than five minutes left in regulation, Russell Wilson’s fifth touchdown pass put the Seahawks up 12, creating some separation in a game against the Patriots that had been tight throughout. But as you would expect with any game between these two teams, it wasn’t going to end without drama at the goal line in the closing seconds.
After Cam Newton had marched New England all the way down to Seattle’s one-yard line with just two seconds left, it looked like the Patriots were going to manage to steal one on the road. Only trailing by five, everyone knew the 250-pound quarterback would be keeping the football. The question was: would the Seahawks be able to stop him?
Turned out, in the inexplicable fashion that has come to be expected when these teams tangle, after not being able to slow Newton down most of the night, Seattle got the final stop from an unexpected source. Knifing into the backfield, defensive end L.J. Collier upended the quarterback short of the end zone, giving his team a thrilling prime time 35-30 victory.
Here’s a few quick takeaways from a memorable, yet stroke-inducing, classic at CenturyLink Field.
After being helpful in Week 1, aggressiveness nearly came back to bite the ‘Hawks this week.
Last weekend, the Seahawks opted to go for it on 4th and 5 in a critical juncture of their road opener against the Falcons and Wilson found DK Metcalf for a long touchdown against one-on-one coverage. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer drew tons of praise this week for making that bold call, but this week, the decision to be aggressive with downfield throws in a critical situation nearly cost Seattle a win. With 3rd and 1 inside two minutes left to play, Wilson dropped back and tried to find Tyler Lockett downfield on a corner route. But the throw was just a hair too far out in front of the receiver, stopping the clock with the incompletion. With how Wilson played tonight, few will question putting the ball in his hands. But taking a deep shot there was questionable with just one yard left to gain to move the chains and ice the contest.
Wilson continues to lap the rest of the league as the best deep ball passer out there.
When it comes to launching the ball downfield, stats already have confirmed Wilson stands above the rest of his quarterback brethren. And yet, somehow, his ridiculous accuracy on such throws continues to amaze. Down by seven midway through the second quarter, while taking a shot from an oncoming pass rusher on top of it, Wilson lofted a perfectly thrown corner route to DK Metcalf, who had a step on All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The throw went right over the top of Gilmore into Metcalf’s hands, who broke through the tackle and scampered into the end zone for six. Then after New England recaptured the lead to start the second half, he made an absurd downfield throw to David Moore, who acrobatically managed to get both feet down inside the pylon with incredible body control for six. To put the game away late in the fourth quarter, Wilson lofted a rainbow with pressure coming on a wheel route to Chris Carson and the ball landed right in the running backs fingertips for his fifth touchdown. Few players can make throws like that and Wilson somehow does it on a weekly basis and it’s magical to watch.
Self-inflicted mistakes kept this game close in the first half and wound up biting the Seahawks late.
Seattle managed to create a little breathing room in the second half for a brief moment, but the game could have been far different coming out of halftime if not for a series of costly mistakes, starting with the opening drive. Last year, Wilson’s first interception of the season was returned for a score and he replicated that feat on Sunday night. The big difference? This one was 100 percent horrible luck. The quarterback’s throw on a crosser was right in Greg Olsen’s hands, but the veteran tight end couldn’t reel it in and the ball landed right in the lap of safety Devin McCourty, who promptly returned the pick 43 yards for a touchdown. On two separate drives in the second quarter, Seattle had promising drives stifled by penalties and finished with seven of them total in the first half, while New England had just one. Giving away seven points on offense with the turnover and possibly losing points due to penalties led to a 14-14 halftime tie rather than a potential sizeable lead for Wilson and the home team.
Third down defense problematic for Seahawks, leading to a bunch of extended drives.
Heading into this matchup, the Seahawks knew they would have their hands full dealing with a healthy Newton and his ability to create with his legs along with being extremely difficult to tackle made for a long night. Up until Collier’s game-ending stop, the team had minimal success slowing him down as a runner and a passer, which allowed the Patriots to convert seven out of 12 third down opportunities as well as a fourth down to extend a bunch of drives. The inability to get off the field wore Seattle’s defense down and played a key role in New England marching up and down the field in the final quarter and nearly pull off the stunning comeback. Without much of a pass rush showing up in the first two games and Bruce Irvin lost to a knee injury, this is a concerning development for a defense that was expected to be much better in 2020 and thus far has given up a lot of points and yardage through two games.
Seahawks need to reassess their safety plan and we’re not talking COVID-19
If there’s a silver lining to Seattle’s defensive struggles, they played the final three quarters without free safety Quandre Diggs, who was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on N’Keal Harry late in the first quarter. He will be back next week, but oments later, Marquise Blair was lost for the rest of the game and probably much longer with a significant knee injury, leaving the Seahawks further depleted at the position. Assuming Blair suffered an injury that will cause him to miss extended time, if not the rest of the year, the team will have to scan the free agent market for replacement options. While Earl Thomas remains unsigned after being released by the Ravens, a reunion there seems unlikely and too expensive, so other options will have to be explored for insurance.