What looked like a tough decision — and one that could have been hotly debated if the ending had turned out differently — really didn’t require all that much thought, said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — What looked like a tough decision — and one that could have been hotly debated if the ending had turned out differently — really didn’t require all that much thought, said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
Instead, Carroll said it was really a pretty easy call to decide to go for two points on the conversion after the Seahawks scored a touchdown with 4:24 left to take a 31-24 lead.
Kicking the extra point would have assured Seattle couldn’t lose on one possession.
But going for two and getting it, Carroll said, would have pretty much ended the game. And that’s what he wanted to do.
“We had already talked about it and I liked the thought,’’ Carroll said. “We talked all about it — had plenty of time to figure it out — and liked that way to go for it and try to put the game out of reach.’’
Russell Wilson’s pass to Doug Baldwin, though, sailed incomplete and meant that as the Patriots took over they had a chance to need only a touchdown and then a PAT to force overtime, or if they wanted, go for two to try to win it.
But to Carroll it was an easy call.
“Because they could tie it we could make it a two-score attempt for them and we could play it differently down the stretch,’’ Carroll said.
New England coach Bill Belichick later called it “an aggressive call. An aggressive call on the road.’’
Seattle might have been able to put the game out of reach if it had been able to score a touchdown on a possession earlier in the quarter. In fact, the Seahawks thought briefly they had scored when C.J. Prosise appeared to bust through traffic on a second-down play from the 1-yard line.
When officials ruled Prosise down at the 1, Carroll decided to challenge the play.
The challenge was overruled, though, with Carroll saying officials simply told him, “He didn’t make it and they weren’t going to overturn the call.’’
A false-start penalty on Jimmy Graham on the next play then led to an incomplete pass and forced Seattle to kick a field goal to take a 25-24 lead.
Thomas enjoys hit on Gronkowski
In the kind of play that typified the way the Seattle defense played all night, safety Earl Thomas leveled New England tight end Rob Gronkowski on what turned out to be an incomplete pass late in the second quarter.
Gronkowski initially walked back to the huddle, then paused and as it became obvious he might be hurt trainers came on the field. He returned after five plays.
“That was a big hit for sure,’’ Gronkowski said. “Probably one of the hardest I’ve gotten in my career. It was a good, clean hit. Nothing against it. I just took it and it just knocked the wind out of me a little bit, that’s all.’’
Said Thomas: “It just felt good because of the situation. They tried to look me off and I had a great break, I trusted myself. That was probably one of the best plays I’ve made in my career. It wasn’t a pick, but it was technique sound, I trusted myself, I made a great play.’’
Wilson, Baldwin again repay trust
Huge moment, and the Seahawks did what they’ve normally done: They trusted quarterback Russell Wilson and receiver Doug Baldwin.
The Seahawks needed 3 yards for a first down late in the fourth quarter, and they were deep in Patriots’ territory. Baldwin and Wilson recognized New England’s defense: cover zero, meaning man-to-man coverage and no lurking help from safeties deep. Either the receiver wins or the defender lined up in front of him wins.
It was in that moment that Wilson and Baldwin’s strengths overlapped. Baldwin is the best player on Seattle’s roster at beating man coverage. He stutters and jukes and throws defensive backs off balance just enough to create space. Wilson excels at throwing touch passes, carefully floating the football so his receivers can run under it.
For five years, Wilson and Baldwin have worked on moments just like that, and so when Baldwin and Wilson saw cover zero, they did what they’ve done so many times before: Baldwin juked his way by his defender, Wilson floated another one of his moonballs. Wilson actually threw the pass before Baldwin was open, but he knew what was about to happen.
Baldwin ran under the pass for a 15-yard, game-winning touchdown.
“That’s the same play we always go to,” Baldwin said. “That’s five years of practice. And a hell of a quarterback doing it.”
• Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is best friends with teammate Michael Bennett, whose brother, Martellus Bennett, plays for the Patriots, which led to a funny exchange on the field.
“I was talking trash to him a little bit during the game,” Avril said. “He cut me one time, and I said, ‘Bro, you’re going to cut me, and you know both of my kids?’ That’s messed up, man. He was like, ‘Man, I barely touched you.’ I was like, ‘That’s messed up! We hang out.’ Just talking trash and having fun.”
• The only apparent new injury for the Seahawks was suffered by backup linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who suffered a hamstring injury and did not return.