Defense helps Seahawks survive against Patriots
It wasn’t the Super Bowl, but this time Seattle Seahawks survived the dramatic closing seconds against the New England Patriots.
Getting a small measure of revenge for losing Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks escaped Sunday, staging a valiant goal-line stand in the closing seconds and stunning the Patriots 31-24.
Tom Brady lobbed a fourth-down pass in the direction of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who stumbled over safety Kam Chancellor as the ball fell incomplete with 11 seconds remaining, ensuring the road win for Seattle (6-2-1).
“Gronk’s a great competitor, man,” said Chancellor, who returned from a four-game absence caused by a groin injury. “With us two on the field, why not end it like that? Give both of us a chance — give him a chance and let me go out there and cover it.”
Gronkowski got up after the play looking for a penalty flag. The no-call appeared to be correct.
“It didn’t get called,” he said later. “It is what it is — if it’s not a (pass interference) to the refs, it’s not a P.I. I’m not here to make excuses to say it was a P.I.”
New England (7-2) drove 74 yards and had a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line and failed on four tries. First, a Brady sneak gained a yard. Then, LeGarrette Blount, who scored three rushing touchdowns in the game, ran for no gain. Brady lost a yard on a third-down sneak, recovering his own fumble.
Seattle then had 12 men on the field, and the penalty moved the ball back to the 1 for the final pass.
“The so-called experts, their predictions about us were wrong. Again,” said Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark, whose one-hand sack of Brady forced a field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson finished 25 of 37 for 348 yards, and he tossed three touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin. Steven Hauschka kicked four field goals, and C.J. Prosise gained a combined 153 yards on the ground and through the air.
“We came up clutch. It was a phenomenal win,” said Wilson.
Baldwin added that there was a “phenomenal emotional feeling in our locker room” after the game.
Brady, who threw the team’s first interception of the season, was 23 of 32 for 316 yards. It was the 75th 300-yard passing game of his career, but the pick kept the Patriots from tying the NFL record of no picks in the first nine games of a season — set by Cleveland’s Milt Plum in 1961. New England did set the record of 258 attempts before the first pick.
“It came down to 1 yard at the end, and we didn’t get it,” Brady said. “We had plenty of chances, but our execution wasn’t what it should be.”
The interception, by DeShawn Shead, was one of two New England turnovers. Chancellor also separated Julian Edelman from the ball, leading to Seattle’s last touchdown.
After Baldwin’s third touchdown, with 4:24 left, Seattle coach Pete Carroll, who chose to throw the ball picked off by then-rookie Malcolm Butler 21 months ago in the Super Bowl, boldly went for two to put the game out of reach. The pass play failed, so the strategy almost backfired.
“That was an impressive call on the road,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “About as competitive a game as you’re going to get. … Give them credit — they made more plays than we did. That’s why they won.”
Hauschka, who had an extra point blocked, kicked field goals of 27, 31, 41 and 23 yards, allowing him to pass Norm Johnson and set the club record of 161 career field goals.
It was the 97th straight game, including playoffs, in which the Seahawks haven’t trailed by more than 10 points in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks scored on four of their five first-half possessions, with Wilson throwing for 197 yards. Only a series of drops and missed open receivers kept the visitors from more than a 19-14 halftime lead.
NOTES: Patriots RB Dion Lewis, added to the roster for the first time this season Saturday, was inactive. He missed an entire year because of a knee injury that required two surgeries. … New England rookie CB/KR Cyrus Jones, inactive the past three games, dressed, with CB Eric Rowe inactive after a rough game before the bye. Jones, who has had trouble holding onto the ball, had a 45-yard kick return and fumbled, his team recovering. … The Seahawks were missing starting OT Bradley Sowell (knee) for the second straight game, but RB Christine Michael passed his pregame test and was active. … New England RB LeGarrette Blount has 12 rushing touchdowns, two shy of Curtis Martin’s team single-season record. … The Seahawks, who led the league in scoring defense the past four years, came into Sunday’s game third, while the Patriots were second. … Over 100 active military members were on the field pregame. … The Seahawks host Philadelphia and the Patriots visit San Francisco next week.