Despite a 16-0 home loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 4, the low point of the New England Patriots season has to be their 31-24 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks. After all, in that shutout to the Bills, the Patriots were starting Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and the defense gave the offense plenty of opportunities to catch up.
But in their loss to the Seahawks, New England had Tom Brady, had most of the offensive line they want, were successful in scoring on the ground with three LeGarrette Blount touchdowns, and had Rob Gronkowski for most of the game — but they still lost. At home. To a team that so far on the road this season has been atrocious outside of Gillette Stadium. That has to be concerning for the Patriots because they gave it their all and yet Seattle found a way. Will other teams find a way in the playoffs? Is a rematch coming in the Super Bowl?
Maybe. Either way, New England has still been maybe the hottest team in the NFL since that night. Since the night this happened:
It was a legal hit that forced Gronkowski out for part of the game, though he later returned in time to not catch the game-winning touchdown. Gronkowski reportedly suffered a punctured lung but returned two weeks later to play the New York Jets; however, things didn’t go well and he knew he had to have back surgery that would end his season, likely due to the jarring blow by Thomas.
Earl Thomas with the BOOM on Gronk. pic.twitter.com/ySkzHW9aeM— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) November 14, 2016
But the hits keep coming for the Patriots, only now they’re delivering them. In the form of wins, that is. I mean, in real hits too, it’s football after all — look, moving on...
Since that game, New England is 5-0, including their last two wins coming against the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, both pretty good teams that didn’t pose excessive danger to the Pats. Even without Gronkowski for most of the year, Brady has thrown 22 touchdowns and two interceptions to put himself atop many MVP lists despite being suspended for the first four games. New England just locked up their eighth-straight division title (NFL record) and their 14th under Bill Belichick. They’ve won at least 12 games for seven straight years and the only time they haven’t won the division since 2003 is the year that Brady tore his ACL and missed all 16 games, save a few pass attempts.
I don’t know if the defense is exceptional or not, but they’re first in points allowed, just three points “ahead” of Seattle, actually, as the Seahawks look to get their fifth straight scoring-D title. They’ve also got Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett’s brother Martellus filling in for Gronk, though surprisingly he’s not been very productive in the passing game since he became the number one. And as sad as it is, it’s also quite interesting that Thomas himself went on injured reserve a few weeks later after breaking his leg against the Carolina Panthers. They have struggled deep middle without Thomas, and that could definitely be an issue in the playoffs, but there’s still a chance that the Patriots and Seahawks will play a rematch of their historic Super Bowl of two years ago.
A small chance overall, but decent compared to all the other potential Super Bowl matchups.
It’s been a somewhat poetic tale of two teams from different conferences who seem to be crossing paths for incredible matchups, and maybe there’s still one more left in store this season.