For the sake of my health, I don’t want to watch another game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. These last three games have all been decided at the 1-yard line, and in none of those instances did the offense prevail in those situations. It doesn’t get more exciting than that, but my heart can’t take another matchup between these two.
Anyway, the Seahawks are 2-0 and in a great tribute to current physical distancing protocols, they made sure the Patriots were kept six feet from the end zone on the final snap. We’re going to do Winners and Losers a day late because I did the post-game podcast with Brandan Schulze and John Morgan. You can listen to that at the top of the page.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Russell Wilson had one of the single greatest quarterback performances in the history of the Bill Belichick era in New England. 21/28 for 288 yards and 5 TDs with an INT that was not his fault. Oh yeah, and he had 39 yards on the ground. He was damn near flawless against a great secondary. Do you realize how rare it is for a QB to throw five TDs on the Pats?
Russell Wilson's five touchdown passes marked only the second time in the ENTIRE Bill Belichick era that a quarterback had thrown five TDs against the Patriots defense.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) September 21, 2020
The other QB was Drew Brees in 2009 when the Saints thumped the Patriots 38-17.
The entire wide receiver group
I’m not going to do individual praise because collectively this unit was magnificent. DK Metcalf owned an elite corner in Stephon Gilmore and in many ways it was one of his best performances to date in his young career. Tyler Lockett put up a Tylerlockettian statline of 7 catches for 67 yards and his scramble drill touchdown with Russell Wilson is just impossible to stop. Freddie Swain, whom Steve Raible thought was Lockett, caught his first NFL TD on a 21-yard catch-and-run. David Moore had a sick touchdown to continue his great start to the year. I could not have been any more impressed with their performance.
This comes with the note that he should not have slid so early when he had a first down in his sights. I get trying to burn clock but the two-minute warning was coming up anyway and Belichick wasn’t going to use his timeouts that early. He still had 73 yards on 17 carries plus the huge receiving touchdown on that beautiful loft by Wilson. His development as a receiving back has been a pleasant surprise.
Dunbar should’ve had two interceptions but I’ll take the one which led to a touchdown for Freddie Swain. Those are the type of ball skills that Tre Flowers has frankly had an inconsistent time displaying, particularly on those out routes that break towards the sideline. Dunbar also I believe played a role in stopping a 3rd down Rex Burkhead pitch.
Did you see that sexy display of punting? I think I called him Puntimus Maximus on the Field Gulls Twitter. He had four kicks all pin the Patriots inside their 20 and no punt return yards allowed. That’s a great game by Dickson and I believe the Seahawks special teams as a whole looks the best it’s been since 2015, which is huge for a unit that has struggled mightily in recent seasons.
LJ Collier and Lano Hill
For reasons outlined here but I also must retroactively credit Bobby Wagner for disrupting the middle of the line to make the final play that much harder for Cam. Collier and Hill were the stars for making the stop. Good to see two Ls make a W.
Poona Ford and the run defense
Ford has arguably outplayed Jarran Reed at his own strength. He’s still very much a one-dimensional run-stopper but what he does he does well. The Patriots running backs had just 22 yards on 12 carries and Ford was a major reason for that. Ford also was in position to stop Cam Newton if Collier and Hill failed to do their jobs, because he beat his blocker. It’ll get tougher for Seattle with Ezekiel Elliott coming to town but yesterday was a great job by the run defense to make sure only Cam Newton was the threat.
Olsen played like someone who’s still very close friends with Cam Newton. The pass he dropped was not “on the money” per se but he’s been in this league long enough that it was a very catchable throw and it led to seven points. He also had a false start on that mess of a final possession in the 1st half.
It is terrible. If they don’t blitz they don’t get close to the quarterback with four guys. We should’ve seen this coming and yet I fear this year’s pass rush will be worse than last season’s and that is a low bar they may fail to clear. It stresses the secondary to cover that long and provides opposing offenses with too many potential chunk plays.
The referees for missing this Jarran Reed holding call
The Seahawks have gone eight straight games without an offensive holding penalty in their favor, by the way. Some of that is a poor pass rush that doesn’t need to be held, and some of that is... well... you just saw it.
Diggs is not a dirty player and I am pretty sure he didn’t mean to hit N’Keal Harry like that. But like in any other sport, recklessness makes intent pretty much irrelevant. A two-footed lunge to try and win the ball in soccer and still get you a red card. In this instance, Diggs’ ejection was justified and if a Patriots player had done that to a Seahawks receiver I think we’d want an ejection, too. He’ll avoid suspension, so that’s the good news.
- Condolences to James White and his family after the tragic death of his father in a car accident. Hopefully his mother can survive but that is no doubt a devastating loss to experience and I feel so horrible for him. Condolences are also in order for Bill Belichick, who lost his mother earlier in the week. This was a difficult past few days for the Patriots team all the way up until gameday itself.
- I think the Seahawks should’ve at least considered going for it on 4th and 1 after that failed Tyler Lockett deep shot. Frankly I disagreed with the initial playcall to Lockett but I understand the idea — first down and likely into field goal range. With that said, 4th and 1 even at your own 31 has a benefit of a conversion that forces the Pats to use their second timeout and Seattle would burn up much of the remaining 1:50 if they didn’t get another first down. The downside sucks, which is a short field for New England, but they are not likely to use the entire clock to score from 31 yards out and Seattle would’ve had time (and hopefully timeouts) to either tie or win with a field goal.
- I didn’t make Jamal Adams a winner or a loser because while I didn’t think he played as well as his stats suggested, he still had key run stops and the lone sack of the game for Seattle. Adams’ pass coverage was a mess and that was a bit concerning.
- Damien Lewis is not a good pass blocker at the moment and I don’t expect him to be in his rookie season. I’m encouraged by his run blocking but the right side of the o-line is a bit of a rough watch.
- Cam Newton has consistently been on the losing end of incredibly close games against Russell Wilson but last night was the single greatest game I have ever seen him play versus the Seahawks. He looks fresh, rejuvenated, and the Patriots should be a playoff team as long as he’s healthy.
- The Marquise Blair injury hurts a lot because of his value both on special teams and as a nickel option/extra safety. With that said, I have full faith in Ugo Amadi to be a capable nickel at the very least. He had some good run stops that forced the Patriots off the field.
- The Bruce Irvin injury? Oh man. That changes a lot of things because he’s also developed into a capable run defender.
- Bring on the Cowboys!