In case you happen to have amnesia, this was a rematch of Super Bowl 49. The result of that game was heartbreaking and PTSD inducing. Tonight, the script was flipped, and the Seahawks came away with the win.
That the rematch came down to a goal line situation with @Patriots fans wondering why they didn’t run it on @Seahawks is completely unreal.
Here are my five takeaways from tonight unexpected win:
1. Red Zone worries
The Seahawks only punted twice, once in each half. They scored on every other possession. That’s good, but four field goals after getting inside the red zone is worrisome.
The problems were different each trip too. One was a Jermaine Kearse drop, one was a bad Wilson throw, one was a terrible route/effort by Kearse, and on the final one the offense forgot to block anyone on three straight plays.
Of course, they actually scored a TD once, but the refs decided CJ Prosise didn’t make it in for reasons that are unfathomable. They then proceeded not to overturn the call on replay because there wasn’t a good camera angle.
The lack of targets for Jimmy Graham on those trips is a bit concerning, but it is easy to see why they didn’t happen. Bill Belichick is a master of taking away an opponent’s best offensive player, and it was clear that he schemed to take away Graham tonight.
With the Patriots working to take away Graham, someone else needed to step up and make a play. Too often, that didn’t happen tonight. This is something the Seahawks have to fix.
Nov 13, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers (98) reacts after sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
2. The offensive line was better
Coming off what might have been their worst combined performance since Week 2, Seattle’s offensive line finally started showing some real improvement.
Well, improvement is relative. The group wasn’t their typical flaming garbage this week. Instead they were just normal garbage. Someone even bothered to pull out all the recyclables.
Jokes aside, the line did play better. They were far from perfect, but Wilson had time to throw on most plays and they finally opened some holes for the running game.
We always say that Wilson doesn’t need a great offensive line; he just needs an average one. This might be the first time that this group has been close to average all season.
The results speak for themselves. Seattle only punted twice, once in each half. They only went three-and-out once all game. When it was all over, they scored on 7 out of 10 possessions, and that includes the victory formation possession at the end of the game.
Nov 13, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise (22) makes the catch against New England Patriots outside linebacker Elandon Roberts (52) and free safety Devin McCourty (32) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Seattle Seahawks defeated the Patriots 31-24. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
3. The CJ Prosise coming out party
With the offensive line finally learning how to run block, the stage was set for a rookie CJ Prosise to have a big game. His natural quickness was obvious throughout the game, and he ran with a surprising power that wasn’t expected.
Prosise finished with 17 carries for 66 yards. He also had a TD that for some reason wasn’t awarded.
Also on display was the receiving skills that the Seahawks drafted him for. Seattle thought he’d be a weapon in the passing game out of the backfield, and it is clear they were correct.
Those 7 catches for 87 yards were huge for the Seahawks, and allowed them to put drives together that stalled in previous weeks.
C.J. Prosise was Seattle’s leading receiver and rusher. Had 153 total yards (87 receiving, 66 rushing). Not bad for a first start.
Nov 13, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) fumbles the ball while being tackled by Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) and outside linebacker K.J. Wright (50) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Seattle Seahawks won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
4. Welcome back Kam Chancellor
Seattle’s All-Pro strong safety missed four games games with a groin injury. This was his first game back, and the rust was apparent early. Kam made two big mistakes on New England’s opening drive that lead to a New England touchdown.
After that, Kam settled in and made his presence felt in a big way for the Seahawks. He was a big part of stopping New England’s offense throughout he game.
Then, in the fourth quarter he really took over. Kam forced a fumble at midfield that Richard Sherman recovered and the Seahawks turned into a touchdown.
On New England’s next possession, that turned out to be their final possession, Chancellor was came up big again. He made the stop on the 1-foot line when Blount tried to jump over the line, and then was matched up one-on-one with Gronkowski on fourth and goal.
Kelcie McCray played extremely well during Chancellor’s absence, but tonight Kam showed why he’s the All-Pro.
Nov 13, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive guard Germain Ifedi (76) reacts after defeating the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Seattle Seahawks defeated the Patriots 31-24. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
5. What a massive (and unexpected) win!
The Seahawks were 6.5 point underdogs. They were going up against Tom Brady on the road and without their best pass rusher. The Seahawks were banged up, and the Patriots were healthy and coming off their bye week.
It was a recipe for a predictable loss. No one would have been surprised to see Seattle leave Foxboro with another tally in L column.
And yet, that didn’t happen. The Seahawks went into New England and beat the best team in the AFC. The offense clicked, scoring on almost every drive. The defense came up big over and over including collecting two turnovers and getting a fourth down stop at the end of game.
The Seahawks move to 6-2-1 with a clear gap between them and the 3rd seed in the NFC playoff picture. The battle home-field advantage in the playoffs has been reduced to a two-team race between Seattle and Dallas.