Narrative Of The Game:
This is one of those rare times there’s a late shift in mood. I think if you talked to most fans at the beginning of the week, they would tell you they felt like this would be a loss. I think once the experts’ sentiment came down against the Seattle Seahawks having a snowball’s chance in hell, we all took it a little personally, despite the odds. New England has some crazy records related to their last fifteen years of being THE franchise. So how did Seattle manage to best them? Let’s take a look.
[First Quarter 13:46 3rd and 5. Tom Brady pass complete to Rob Gronkowski for 22 yards. KJ Wright in coverage.]
“Just like the Super Bowl. UGGGGHHHHHH!”
An un-winnable play here with a deep over route by Gronkowski. Yon can see Kam Chancellor and KJ switch up coverage by a short communication here. The Seahawks are running a short zone and just simply can’t stay with Gronk here. I know all of you who watched this were probably flashing to the Super Bowl and thinking “Oh no” just like I was.
Drive Result: Touchdown to LeGarrette Blount. It was strange to watch this drive because as much as it was easy for the New England Patriots to move down the field, I couldn’t help but admire it. They used multiple formations and play types including draws and screens to set up a TD.
[First Quarter 7:06 2nd and 10. Run by Blount for -1 yard. Tackled by Frank Clark.]
“Stop running. It’s just a hug.”
The broadcast misses the start of the play here, but Frank Clark gets through a down block by Rob Gronkowski for an easy stop of Blount who can’t even get started. It was a nice surge by Clark to read what was happening. My only concern with the play is the susceptibility to counters, Frank will have to walk the line and not get “influenced” on plays in the future.
Drive Result: Easy three-and-out for the defense. Frank Clark created a fun down for the defense with a 3rd and 11.
[First Quarter :22 3rd and 7. Tom Brady pass incomplete intended for Julian Edelman. Jeremy Lane in coverage.]
“At least he didn’t have to tackle anyone.”
This ball kinda comes out with more air than I think Brady intended. Lane is going to look for the ball late on this, but Edelman beat Lane’s press off the snap. It’s lucky that the pass is either early, or off target here, probably thrown away from Earl Thomas. Never doubt the influence of #29 for the Seahawks. Watch the little wrinkle of pass rush for Clark and Cassius Marsh here which may or may not have hurried Brady’s innaccurate toss.
Drive Result: Another three-and-out. Seattle’s run defense really clamped down after the opening drive. This forced the Patriots out of the rhythm they enjoyed on their opening drive.
[Second Quarter 9:19 1st and 10. Tom Brady Pass intended for Mitchell intercepted by DeShawn Shead.]
“is it gonna be in the air forever?” -Deshawn Shead maybe?
In the words of Clay Mathews “You ain’t Russell Wilson Bro.” Tom Brady scrambles around on this play and everyone is covered up. He then decides to launch the old Hassel-throw into double coverage at his least experienced receiver. The decision is a head scratcher here as Shead reads it easy and picks it off.
[Second Quarter 4:24 1st and 10. Tom Brady pass intended for Gronkowski incomplete. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas covering.]
“I’ve got tone, I’ve got tone! FIRING!” - Earl Thomas, more than likely.
After a bogus face mask penalty on Sherman the previous play, New England has finally shaken loose of the smothering Seattle defense that allowed just 22 yards after the opening drive for a touchdown. This play doesn’t have an impact on the drive result (I’ll get to that) it does however, send a nice message about how the Seahawks are prepared to play. BOOM.
Drive Result: Blount Touchdown. The Patriots found just a bit of rhythm and running game on this drive and that led to some nice play actions and easy passes for Brady. Big credit to Blount though, who had one of the longest sideways goal line runs I have ever seen.
In fact, take a look:
[Third Quarter 9:44 2nd and 17. Tom Brady pass to Martellus Bennett for 14-yards. Kam Chancellor in coverage.]
“Kam likes piggy back rides.”
A Jarran Reed sack on the play before this goes to waste a bit. You gotta tip your hat to this fantastic throw and catch. It’s great timing to make sure Chancellor’s back is turned when Brady throws this. Bennett also doesn’t give anything away.
Drive Result: Touchdown Blount. The third TD of the day for the Patriots comes on a power sweep to the left side. They do a good job hammering down the edge to give Blount the angle on the TD. A 91-yard, 10-play drive that takes up half a quarter? I wish our team could do that sometimes.
[Third Quarter 2:52 1st and 10. Tom Brady pass to Martellus Bennett for 36-yards. Tackled by Earl Thomas. KJ Wright in coverage.]
“Wright and Kam, almost but not quite.”
The play-fake is perfectly timed here after the last drive with a few sweep runs gashing the Seattle defense. Wright just can’t catch up and Kam Chancelor can’t bring him down. Not much you can do here defensively.
[Fourth Quarter 13:45 3rd and Goal. Tom Brady sacked by Frank Clark for -4 yards.]
“They look like big, strong hands, don’t they?”
A ridiculous display of power by Clark. It’s really all about the surge from Cliff Avril, who, while quiet in the sack department, was still pressuring Brady in a few key spots. Brady has to slide up and to his left just enough for Frank to pull him down by the most powerful hand-wrist combo ever.
Drive Result: Field goal. Not much is complicated on this one. Seattle just can’t seem to knock the Patriots off their rhythm after doing so well in the first half following the opening score. The running game continued to cause some issue here. I’ll get into that more in the game wrap.
[Fourth Quarter 8:39 2nd and 10. Tom Brady pass to Julian Edelman for 5 yards. Fumble forced by Kam Chancellor. Recovered by Richard Sherman.]
“I wish I could put a fart sound effect in here when the ball comes out.”
Effort play by Edelman here and a fantastic fumble forced by Kam. It’s just a simple crosser that the Patriots have been hitting against the Seahawks in different down and distances. The turnover ends what had been a barrage of offensive success to that point.
[Fourth Quarter :37 2nd and Goal. Run up the middle by LeGarrette Blount for no gain. Tackled by Kam Chancellor.]
Yeah. Sometimes these plays are chaos and luck. This one is power on power and Seattle wins. Chancellor comes all the way from the left side of the defense (right side offensively) to pull Blount down by his ankles. Nice late surge by Wagner and Jarran Reed for the Seahawks to make sure Blount couldn’t keep any forward momentum.
Drive Result: Turnover on downs. This drive was all about being patient defensively. Unfortunately DeShawn Shead got beat deep to set up the goal line opportunity in the first place. This year, it’s seemed more games have come down to that last red zone/goal line stand than I ever remember.
The Seahawks came in with a clear idea of what they needed to stop. Though Martellus Bennett was an addition to the team, this is the same offense they faced in the 2014 Super Bowl. Though not shown, Seattle blitzed a couple of times and did challenge the run almost exclusively.
They obviously were hoping to contain Brady as best they could. It was strange though that the game went from an opening score to a half closing score, to the Patriots just rolling through Seattle like warm bread. There’s not much to say about the defensive play calling. The Seahawks matched up pretty well and held on for a rare road win in Foxboro.
Kam Chancellor. While he clearly had some rust, he made so many huge plays from the pass deflection on Gronk where Earl lit Gronk up, to the forced fumble, to stopping Blount on the goal line. Not to mention his one on one contest with Gronk on 4th and goal. It would be a travesty not to name him here.
The run defense was constantly adjusting and behind the curve on what was happening. I realize some of that is Kris Richard and Pete’s job to call good alignments, but that edge stuff needs some attention or it could become an issue fast.