The Patriots-Seahawks rivalry has always been a dramatic one, and Sunday’s matchup was a testament to that.
From Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s scuffle with DK Metcalf during the third quarter, to head coach Bill Belichick’s decision not to call a timeout in the last 29 seconds of the game, the game was on the line (the one yard line, to be exact) when quarterback Cam Newton found himself looking to run it in for a touchdown.
Despite a valiant effort by Newton, he was “stuffed” by a solid Seahawks defense at the goal line, resulting in 30-35 loss for the Patriots. Newton was critical of himself after the game, adding that the Patriots have the potential to be a really good team but simply “fell short” to an opponent that came ready to compete.
“They watch film, they probably [saw] us last week have a lot of success in the run game, and they had a plan,” Newton said. “Make no mistake about it, the Seattle Seahawks [are] a great football team. We are a great football team as well, and it was great for us to kind of see where we kind of fared out and we just fell short.”
The general consensus amongst experts, however, is that the Seahawks brought the heat and Sunday’s loss was a teaching moment for the Patriots, both offensively and defensively.
Seattle and New England win best drama. Again.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 21, 2020
“It’s too early to tell just what this loss to Seattle foretold, but the Patriots know more about themselves than they did when they got on the plane to the Pacific Northwest on Friday afternoon,” wrote NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E Curran. “Just as last week’s win against Miami was graded on the curve as being, well, fine. A start. Nice but not cause to break out the sheetcake in the breakroom. This week’s loss needs to be graded on the curve…
The Patriots got lit up on the ground (Seattle rolled up 154 yards rushing) and that’s something they’ll need to shore up in a hurry…But the building blocks appear to be in place for them to get better over there.”
Here’s what other NFL experts are saying:
Ryan Clark, ESPN: “I felt like I hopped in the DeLorean and we were in the second half of 2015 when these two dudes [Newton and Wilson] were the best two quarterbacks on earth and Cam ended up winning the MVP…This is what everybody said: Can Cam Newton create some sort of passing game, not only down the field but outside the numbers with these weapons that the New England Patriots have?”
“I said very early on when he was signed that this offense could be better if Cam Newton was healthy than they would have been with Tom Brady, and that’s exactly what we saw last night. It was time to make a play, and they put the ball in Cam Newton’s hands.
“Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick — they’ve never had a guy like this. They’ve never had Superman. So you know what they did? They played the damsel in distress and said, ‘Come save me’ and they gave the ball to Cam. And I have no issue with that. The New England Patriots are going to be all right because Superman has returned.”
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: “Because the Patriots eventually had a chance to win the game with a final play from the Seattle one, the decision to not call the timeout will draw less attention than it would have. Because Bill Belichick is the coach who failed to call the timeout, the decision to not call the timeout undoubtedly will draw less criticism and scrutiny.
“Imagine the reaction if someone not regarded as the greatest coach of all time had done something like this. Imagine the reaction if someone not regarded as the greatest coach of all time explained the failure to call timeout with 22 seconds of saying nothing other than, ‘Yeah, well.’
“It’s impossible to know whether using the timeout would have resulted in a win. However, most coaches would gladly take first and 10 from the 13 with 29 seconds on the clock and no timeouts over first and 10 from the 13 with nine seconds and one timeout. Belichick could have had the former, he settled for the latter, and the fact that all he could say in response was ‘yeah, well’ is the closest he’ll ever come to admitting a mistake.”
Phil Perry, NBC Sports Boston: “Could the Patriots have trotted out a different package of players onto the field for that do-or-die moment? Maybe. Could they have called for a pass from that heavy set the way they did earlier in the game? Sure.
“But the reality of the situation is that the Patriots had one-man goal-line wrecking crew at quarterback. They had a play that hadn’t yet failed. But they were out-executed at the moment of truth.”
Karen Guregian, Boston Herald: “Given the Dolphins are rebuilding, and the Seahawks are a well-established team, with a quarterback in Russell Wilson who Bill Belichick essentially called the best player in the game, this outing revealed more significant intel on the Patriots.
“Did they pass the litmus test? Not quite, but let’s just say losing doesn’t cast a pall on the season. If anything, there were plenty of encouraging signs during the nail-biting 35-30 loss at a fan-less CenturyLink Field. The gap between the Patriots and the Seahawks has been established. And it’s not much.
“What was most concerning about the loss? All week long, Belichick preached about Wilson’s greatness, especially his effectiveness in throwing the deep ball. There’s no one better.
“And even against the Patriots’ vaunted secondary, with all the warnings delivered about what Wilson does best, the Seahawks quarterback still hit the long ball — and it cost the Patriots.”
Chad Finn, Boston.com: “If you absolutely must have something to worry about this morning, the Patriots’ defense has some areas of concern. The Seahawks, who don’t exactly have a Shaun Alexander or Curt Warner in their backfield these days, averaged 5.1 yards per rush, gaining 154 yards on the ground. That’s not going to get it done. I’m less alarmed by the five touchdown passes Russell Wilson dropped on them considering at least three of them came on throws maybe one or two other quarterbacks in the league can make. The Patriots didn’t even hold the Seahawks to a three-and-out until early in the fourth quarter.”
Jeff Howe, The Athletic: “It was a testament to Newton that the Patriots even had a chance at the end, so that has to be encouraging from a broader perspective. Newton moved the ball with relative ease when the Patriots busted the brakes off the offense…
“It wasn’t a typical Patriots defensive performance, whether it was Stephon Gilmore, who gave up a 54-yard touchdown reception to DK Metcalf, or Jason McCourty, who was in coverage for touchdown catches by Tyler Lockett and David Moore, or just a large-scale fundamental breakdown during Freddie Swain’s easy 21-yard touchdown reception. Wilson, who was hit hard on three of his touchdown passes, kept making plays to keep the pressure on Newton and the Patriots throughout the night…
“When given the chance to open it up, Newton flew up and down the field against a talented Seahawks defense. The Patriots will need more of that against AFC powers like the Chiefs and Ravens.
“And now that they’ve seen him do it, the Patriots have a better understanding of how much weight they can put on Newton’s shoulders.”
Eric Rueb, Providence Journal: “Looks like N’Keal Harry isn’t nearly as bad as Tom Brady made everyone think he was. Sunday’s 35-30 loss to Seattle still hurts in the standings, but a lot of good came out of it for the New England Patriots.
“Perhaps the biggest development was that Harry, the Patriots’ 2019 first-round draft pick, looked like he’s ready to blossom playing with Cam Newton after spending last year in Brady’s doghouse.
“Harry played his best game as a pro against the Seahawks, finishing with eight catches for 72 yards. Not a bad performance when you consider he opened his night by nearly getting decapitated.”
Bernd Buchmasser, SB Nation’s Pats Pulpit: “This process of “figuring it out” may have been born out of necessity given how the game went, but it did show that Newton and the Patriots offense are certainly capable of playing a different game than last week’s. For one, they actively stretched the field: New England had 13 pass plays of more than 15 yards against the Seahawks, after having just three of them versus Miami one week before. The team also tried to go up-tempo in order to make life hard for Seattle’s defense.
“The results may not have always been pretty — the Patriots turned the football over once and at the end of the day scored just three offensive touchdowns — but Newton and company played some good complimentary football, especially with the game on the line. Along the way, he showed some solid chemistry with his pass catchers as well.”