Three immediate impressions from the Seahawks’ hold-your-breath 35-30 victory over the New England Patriots before an empty CenturyLink Field on Sunday night:
Russ, Russ and more Russ
As No. 3 goes, so go the Seahawks. That, of course, is nothing new. And neither is Russell Wilson’s extraordinary level of consistency. We saw it last season, when he had arguably the best season of his career.
And we’re certainly seeing through two games this season. The difference? Now we all expect this level of dominance from Wilson — and expecting even more of it now that Pete Carroll’s has (finally!) unleashed his star QB.
The results? The Seahawks have scored 73 points in two games and they look capable of being the best offense in team history. That’s not an exaggeration or an overreaction to a small sample size.
This offense is fastest, deeper and more talented than any other during Wilson’s time in Seattle, and it feels like they’re just getting warmed up.
Wilson has nine touchdowns through two games, and this is the first time in his career he’s thrown four touchdowns back-to-back games.
Hello, L.J. Collier!
It didn’t have to be this close.
The Patriots, trailing 35-23 with 4:32 left in the game, had a chance to win it in the final minute when Cam Newton drove them to the Seahawks’ 1-yard line.
A few minutes earlier, Newton got New England within 35-30 with a 1-yard TD run, his second rushing score of the game.
The Seahawks then went three-and-out — with Wilson’s third-and-1 pass deep for Lockett falling incomplete with 1:55 to go. That, in hindsight, will be a play-call that draws much scrutiny.
The Patriots, needing a touchdown, got to the Seattle 13-yard line on Newton’s 18-yard pass to Julian Edelman. On the next play, Newton threw for Edelman in the end zone — but it was off Edelman’s outstretched hands, too high, incomplete, with 9 seconds left.
Newton’s 12-yard pass to N’Keal Harry got the Patriots to the 1-yard line with 3 seconds left — leaving one last play in the game, with little doubt about what the Patriots were going to do:
Newton kept it, ran to his left — and was promptly upended for a loss by L.J. Collier, the Seahawks’ 2019 first-round pick.
It was, without question, the biggest play of Collier’s NFL career and, without question, the play of the game for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks played much of the game without their top two free safeties, and they struggled for much of the game to slow down the Patriots’ up-tempo offense.
Starting free safety Quandre Diggs was ejected late in the first quarter for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Harry. His replacement, Marquise Blair, then went down with a knee injury and did not return.
In 2019, the Patriots had the toughest secondary in the NFL and the NFL defensive player of the year in Stephon Gilmore.
The Patriots allowed only four touchdown to wide receivers in 2019 and Gilmore didn’t allow any touchdowns when he was the primary defensive back in coverage.
On Sunday night, Wilson’s first four touchdown passes were to wide receivers: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, David Moore and Freddie Swain.
Moore had the most “improbable” catch of the day — and one of the most improbable in recent NFL history. Moore tiptoed along the left side of the end zone to haul in the pass under tight coverage while also getting both feet down as he hit the left pylon in the third quarter.
That play had a completion probability of 6.3%, making it the second-most improbable catch in the NFL the past two seasons, according to ESPN’s Next Gen Stats.
That’s the exact same catch probability — 6.3% — as Wilson’s touchdown pass to Lockett against the Rams at CenturyLink Field in 2019.
Wilson, indeed, continues to make the improbable look routine.