Three observations after the Seahawks pulled out a 31-24 victory over the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.
It was just last week that the Seahawks’ defense stood up in the final minute to preserve a win. This one had even more stakes. It was Tom Brady and the Patriots. On the road. A rematch of the Super Bowl from a couple years ago. It felt like an important game.
The Patriots trailed by seven and had the ball at the Seahawks’ 2-yard line. Four downs to score and tie the score.
The Seahawks stuffed Brady on a quarterback sneak up the middle.
They stuffed LaGarrette Blount on the goal line on second down.
They stuffed Brady on another quarterback sneak in which he fumbled the snap.
And, finally, on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Brady floated a fade to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, with safety Kam Chancellor on him. Chancellor had Gronkowski one-on-one, man coverage, the type of coverage the Seahawks like to play in those goal-line situations.
The Seahawks’ defense takes immense pride in being able to hold up at the very end of games, and this may have been their toughest test of the season.
2. Russell Wilson was fantastic.
In a showdown with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Wilson more than held his own. It’s not surprising anymore when he equally duels with a great, but the Seahawks needed Wilson to be awesome, and he was.
Wilson passed for 348 touchdowns and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. But Wilson was just as good in the micro as he was in the macro.
In the fourth quarter, Wilson lobbed a perfect touch pass to Doug Baldwin for Seattle’s final touchdown. Wilson threw the pass before Baldwin was even open, a brilliant display of touch and trust with his most well-known target.
Earlier in the game, at the end of the first half, Wilson floated to his left, outside the pocket, scanned that side of the field and saw Baldwin raise his hand as he streaked across the field to the right. Wilson turned and delivered a touchdown to Baldwin.
Wilson has steadily gotten better the last two weeks as his health has improved. He looks pretty much normal, capable of taking off or just scrambling to keep a play alive.
The Seahawks needed every bit of his performance.
3. C.J. Prosise had the Seahawks’ running game looking more like the Seahawks’ running game.
Prosise, a rookie, made his first career start at running back, and he made a difference. He bounced off defenders and fought for extra yards and patiently waited for openings.
The blocking up front looked better, but it looked like at least a part of that was because Prosise helped make the offensive line. He waited, allowed blocks to set up and then shot through the hole. He finished with 66 yards on 17 carries (3.9 yards per carry) and added 87 yards receiving. His numbers were solid, but it was also the way he picked them up.
The thing with being a Seahawks’ running back is that style matters. Lowering your shoulder, fighting for extra yards, the physical part of the position — all that matters. It matters because of coach Pete Carroll, and it matters because of the legacy of Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks’ running game has had many issues this season, but the absence of that style was one of them. In the first quarter, Prosise caught a pass, ran for 18 yards and, along the sideline, lowered his shoulder instead of stepping out. The Seahawks’ bench, the defensive players, jumped off the bench and waved towels on the sideline. It’s a really small thing, just a small moment, but the Seahawks believe those moments matter.
This is not to say Prosise was perfect because he wasn’t. But he offered some optimism for a run game that has slogged along most of the season.