"I definitely feel like the Patriots game was when we really started to click." -Russell Wilson, on when he felt that the Seahawks' passing game began to get on track.
The Seahawks' Week 6 win against the Patriots is a game that is not talked about enough. When looking back at the season, the games most people talk about are the OT win in Chicago, the playoff win in Washington, the annihilation of the 49ers at home, the replacement refs snafu against the Packers and the almost-come-from-behind playoff victory against the Falcons. If the Patriots game is brought up, Richard Sherman's "U Mad Bro?" tweet is often the topic of discussion. So many marvelous moments happened after Week 6 that is easy to forget that the Seahawks came back from a 23-10 4th quarter deficit to win that game.
I recently watched the condensed version of the Patriots game on NFL Game Rewind and felt like I was watching a Russell Wilson highlight tape. Apart from the Atlanta game, this may have been Wilson's most impressive performance of the season. He passed for 293 yards and 3 TDs on 16 for 27 passing against the most successful NFL franchise of the modern era. This was done in his SIXTH start as an NFL QB.
Numbers, however, do not tell the entire story. It is not only what he did, but how he did it that made his performance so impressive. He threw the deep ball with accuracy, completed check downs when the deep ball was not there and distributed the ball to multiple receivers. From a technique standpoint, he was accurate out of shotgun, off of play action, and as a drop back passer with dimes being delivered from three, five and seven step drops. This was the game that put all the "maybe we should see what Flynn can do" talk to rest. It was the Russell Wilson regular season coming out party and now it is time to relive it.
The first 'wow' moment of the party came with 10:29 left in th 1st quarter. It was 1st and 10, the Seahawks were on the Patriots' 40, and Wilson dropped a dime to Zach Miller for a 22 yard gain.
On this play, the Seahawks were in "11" personnel and the Patriots were in their 3-4 base defense. The Patriots rushed six, most likely trying to rattle the rookie QB with pressure early, so this left Brandon Spikes one on one with Miller. Wilson recognized this mismatch, didn't get rattled by the blitz, stood tall in the pocket, and delivered a perfect ball that only Miller could catch between Spikes and Patrick Chung. This play put this Seahawks in scoring position and would later lead to a field goal that put the Seahawks up 3-0 early in the 1st quarter. Danny broke this play down earlier in the season HERE.
The second wow moment of the party came with 4:25 left in the 1st. The Patriots were up 7-3 and the Seahawks had the ball on their own 16 yard line. Wilson connected on a deep ball to Doug Baldwin that resulted in a 50 yard gain.
This was NFL football at its finest. It was the type of pass that players at lower levels of football just don't complete and Wilson made it look easy. He demonstrated tremendous skill by escaping the collapsing pocket and delivering an accurate ball while rolling out to his left - an incredibly difficult thing to do for a right handed QB. He also recognized that the Patriots were in Cover 1 with the SS spying him so scrambling for the 1st down wasn't an option. By keeping his eyes downfield while escaping pressure, he was able to see that Chung came down to double team Miller on the crossing route, which left Baldwin one on one over the top. Wilson took advantage of the single coverage on Baldwin and completed a 50 yard pass.
This play was huge. It came on 3 and 9 when the Seahawks were on their own 16 yard line. If the Seahawks didn't convert this 3rd down then Tom Brady and company would have had great field position to start their drive. The Seahawks did more than convert a 3rd down but hit a 50 yard strike. This 50 yard pass sustained a drive that later resulted in a touchdown, in which Baldwin was also the pass recipient. At this point of the game, the Seahawks were up 10-3 and everyone watching started to get the feeling that they might actually be able to win this game.
The Seahawks' offense stalled in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Then the Seahawks rallied back in the 4th quarter to eventually beat the Patriots, and this comeback had plenty of wow moments.
One such play - the third wow moment in my post - came with 9:17 left in the 4th quarter. The Seahawks were down 23-10 and had the ball on their own 17 yard line. The Seahawks ran a play-action pass that resulted in a 51 yard bomb to Golden Tate.
On this play, the Seahawks were in "12" personnel and the Patriots were in their base 3-4 defense. The Patriots rushed five and dropped six back into a cover-3 zone, which Wilson exploited. It was exploited because Sterling Moore, the safety, bit on the crossing route to Sidney Rice, which left Tate with a one on one opportunity on his go route. Wilson threw the ball to the middle of the field, the area vacated by Moore, and Tate was able to make a leaping grab over Devin McCourty. 15 more yards were also added on to the end of this play because Spikes clubbed Wilson in his head after the ball was released. The Seahawks went from their own 17 yard line to the Patriots' 17 yard line in one play. The comeback was on.
The fourth wow moment came on the same drive as the previous play. The Seahawks were facing a 4th and 3 from the Patriots 10 yard line and Wilson threw a back shoulder fade to BRAYLON EDWARDS for a TD. I'm still in disbelief that this play worked and on 4th down nonetheless.
On this play, the Seahawks were in 11 personnel and the Patriots were in their nickel defense with 4 down lineman. The Patriots dropped back in man with two safeties in zone over the top. Wilson took a three step drop and put the ball where only Edwards had a shot to get it. Edwards battled through the pass interference from Alfonzo Dennard and made a TD catch that brought the Seahawks within a TD for the lead. The comeback continued.
The final wow moment came on a play that Darrell Bevell described as one of his favorite plays of last year - because it won the game. With the ball on the Patriots 47 yard line with 1:27 left in the game, Wilson connected with Sidney Rice for a TD pass that would eventually lead to a Seahawks' 24-23 victory over the Patriots.
This play made me cause an earthquake in my living room. It wasn't until this point that I actually thought a Seahawks victory over the Patriots was possible. Even with the lead, I still felt that Brady was going to start pulling out some wow moments of his own and deflate all the emotions that caused my mini quake. He didn't though, and the Seahawks won so here is the breakdown of the game winning play.
The Seahawks came out in "22" personnel and the Patriots matched this set with their 3-4 base defense. To prevent the deep pass, the Patriots were in cover 4 - a lot of good that did them. Rice beat the safety with a double move in which he faked the corner route and then cut it back in to run a post route. Since double moves take a while to complete, the Seahawks were in max protect with only Rice and Tate running routes. Wilson faked the hand off to Lynch and then hit Rice off of play action for the game winning TD. The comeback was complete. Mike Chan broke down this play as well, among others on the drive, earlier in the year - so check that out HERE too for another jaunt down memory lane.
This was the type of game that wouldn't have been won without franchise caliber QB play from Wilson. Before this game Wilson averaged 163 yards and 1 TD per game on the season. As stated above, he put up 293 yards and 3 TDs this game. He also completed highlight passes to multiple receivers -- Miller, Baldwin, Tate, Edwards and Rice all had their own big moments throughout the game. With the success that Wilson had in this game, it is no wonder why he feels that this game was when the passing attack began to get on track.
Big up to Danny for the gifs!!!
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