Heading into halftime with a 17-10 lead, Tom Brady and the Patriots were unable to capitalize during the second half and just dropped yet another unnecessary loss to the Seahawks.
Brady threw two interceptions in the 24-23 loss, giving the Seahawks a fighting chance that eventually led to the defeat.
While Brady had a tough day, it was the Patriots secondary that truly was the culprit of the loss on Sunday, allowing rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to complete 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards — yup, you read that right — and a trio of touchdowns. Devin McCourty actually had a good day, but the rest of the secondary just was unable to cover Sidney Rice and the Seahawks receivers.
There's plenty to be discussed about this one, so keep up with all the postgame info, news and notes on Twitter at @LukeFHughes.
Fourth Quarter, 1:31, Seahawks 24-23: I don't know if anything is actually worse than this Patriots secondary.
After allowing big play after big play today, a 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice is just icing on the cake.
Now, with under two minutes left, the Seahawks have a 24-23 lead and have appropriately victimized the Patriots secondary.
Tom Brady, you're up.
Fourth Quarter, 3:21, Patriots 23-17: Danny Woodhead just continues to make play after play for what's become a struggling New England offense.
Woodehead's consistency, especially in big moments, is very reminiscent of Kevin Faulk's role on this team for so many years. Sure, it's a big compliment but also one he's earned over the past few years.
Now, Tom Brady needs to try and work out that ever-questioned "four minute offense"
Fourth Quarter, 7:21, Patriots 23-17: Braylon Edwards? He lives!
After being a non-factor for much of the afternoon, or the season for that matter, Edwards just hauled in a touchdown to get the Seahawks back within one score.
The bigger story, though, is how bad the Patriots secondary has been. Alfonzo Dennard, who came in for Kyle Arrington earlier in the game, just got beat pretty badly by Edwards and allowed the tying score.
Dennard isn't the problem, though. Patrick Chung continues to be a liability in the passing game, then again no one has been able to cover the Seahawks or any receivers for that matter. There needs to be some accountability and even more work in the defensive backfield in New England wants to take this game.
Fourth Quarter, 10:31, Patriots 23-10: Stephen Gostkowski had some confidence issues earlier in the year. He looks to have rediscovered his stroke, though.
After a key turnover from Mayo, Brady was able to work the Patriots downfield setting up Gostkowski for his third field goal of the game.
Although all three kicks have been within 35 yards, the accuracy and approach have been reinvigorating for Patriots fans. Gostkowski's confidence could have been a big problem for this offense, but with a return to form the Patriots only become even more dangerous of an attack.
Fourth Quarter, 12:31, Patriots 20-10: While Tom Brady continues to give the ball away, the defense just continues to bail him out.
Jerod Mayo made a great play across the middle, stripping the ball from Zach Miller and ending a dangerous drive by Seattle.
Mayo is such a terrific play maker and just continues to make great decisions and intervene on big drives during crucial moments. If Mayo didn't make that play this may well have been a one-possession game.
End Third Quarter, Patriots 20-10: That may not have been the prettiest quarter of play from the Patriots this season, but the defense made sure to pick them up.
Tom Brady threw away a terrible interception, but Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich made sure to force some pressure on Russell Wilson and keep him from finding any sort of success through the air.
The Patriots secondary, especially Devin McCourty will be huge the rest of the way as the Seahawks will undoubtedly resort to a more pass-heavy attack with the game closing down.
Third Quarter, 4:45, Patriots 20-10: Tom Brady has been almost perfect for much of the day, but that pass was maybe his worst so far.
While New England continued to drive on this stingy Seattle defense, Brady just under threw Branch and gave the Seahawks offense the ball back with some decent field position.
While Wilson hasn't exactly been Aaron Rodgers so far today, that's nothing a little momentum swing couldn't change.
Third Quarter, 9:21, Patriots 20-10: And there are the three points that the Patriots should've had at the end of the first half.
Brady just led another great drive downfield, and even got backup tight end Daniel Fells in on the action.
Fells, who had just one grab on the season coming into the game, stretched out and hauled in an incredible 35-yard grab to get the Pats into the red zone.
Brady has displayed a great deal of precision on the night and looks to be much more confident in the pocket now with his line intact and a full arsenal of weapons. With the offense pretty much back to health, this could get real dangerous for opposing defenses.
End Second Quarter, Patriots 17-10: After a slow start to the game, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense got rolling with 252 yards of total offense on the half — the most Seattle's allowed in one half this season.
But the half ended with a big mistake as Brady caved under pressure down by the goal line and was called for intentional grounding. The 10-second runoff ended the half and sent the Patriots to the locker room with only a 17-10 lead.
Aside from that mental error, Brady was pretty flawless with 21 of 30 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. He's also got Hernandez, who is back on the field for the first time, back on track nice and quick here in Seattle.
Russell Wilson has exploited the Patriots secondary with some terrific accuracy, completing 9 of 12 passes for 155 yards and an impressive touchdown over the top of Kyle Arrington. Arrington has since been benched in favor of Alfonzo Dennard, one the many switches to the defensive backfield.
There's plenty more to be done in the second half, and New England could definitely take advantage of so many more opportunities if this inconsistency in the Seattle defense continues.
Oh yeah, and Wes Welker is a beast.
Second Quarter, 2:12, Patriots 17-10: Who is tougher than Wes Welker?
Welker took a brutal hit at the start of the drive. But after going to the bench, he returned to the game, caught a pass and secured a big first down for the Patriots.
Welker may be a jokester and a little undersize, but dammit if he isn't a warrior. What an animal.
Stephen Gostkowski fed off of that energy and nailed a 25-yard field to put the Pats up 17-10 on the afternoon.
Now, the Patriots just need to exert more of that mentality and build on that lead in the second half.
Second Quarter, 6:17, Patriots 14-10: Chandler Jones isn't joking around anymore.
After seeming pretty much a non-factor in the first quarter, Jones has established himself in the pass rush during the second quarter thus far.
Jones is working on the right side of the Seahawks line and continues to impose his physical dominance as he keeps getting after Wilson.
That strip-sack was a clutch turnover for New England, too, as they now have the chance to take a two-score lead on the Seahawks.
Second Quarter, 11:17, Patriots 14-10: Did somebody say Aaron Hernandez was back? Well, if you didn't know then now you know.
Hernandez made his presence well known on the first few drives with a pair of catches, but none were bigger than that lofty toss from Brady that put the Patriots back on top with a 14-10 lead.
Hernandez wasn't expected to play very much coming into this one, as he has missed a few weeks with an ankle injury, but it looks like he's moving just fine on that ankle. So, we'll probably see even more of him today, and hopefully in the coming weeks. That's big news for the Patriots, as they can now get back to their normal attack.
End 1st Quarter, Seahawks 10-7: Tom Brady was impressive during the Patriots 82-yard scoring drive, but Russell Wilson has looked better so far.
Brady tore up the Seahawks No. 1 -ranked defense, completing nine of 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. But while Brady was slicing his way through, Wilson hit on 7 of 8 passes for 131 yards and has made the Patriots secondary look like Boston College.
The Patriots have gotten some pressure up the middle on Wilson, though, and with Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich putting so much pressure they should eventually get to him.
First Quarter, 1:49, Seahawks 10-7: If the Patriots secondary seemed to be exploited on the first drive of the game, then now they just look severely over matched.
Russell Wilson, a rookie quarterback mind you, is putting on a Michael Vick-esque showing with some great passes as well as the elusiveness worthy of the comparison.
Wilson has been inconsistent all season, but against this secondary he's suddenly a Pro Bowl-caliber signal-caller.
Kyle Arrington looks bad in coverage, getting beat multiple times now, and there could be a replacement coming soon.
First Quarter, 5:49, Patriots 7-3: Any thoughts about a letdown for Wes Welker this week — after some controversial comments — were just put to bed.
Brady, who looked somewhat lost on the first drive, just sliced and diced his way downfield as he used Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker to take the lead.
Lloyd seemingly walked on a tightrope along the sidelines to haul in a crucial catch. Meanwhile Welker did his best Willie Mays with an incredible over the head grab and scored the touchdown to put the Pats up 7-3.
Big momentum swing for the offense after struggling with the crowd noise on the first series. This could be a defensive series to dictate the game.
First Quarter, 7:39, Seahawks 3-0: The Patriots secondary has been exploited in the early going, and it could be a concern as this game, and season, rolls on.
Brandon Spikes isn't great in coverage usually, but he actually has been better in recent weeks. McCourty and safety Tavon Wilson need to step up more in coverage, though.
An early sighting of Alfonzo Dennard could be a sign of things to come in this one, as he was on the field as the first series went on.
First Quarter, 12:52: The Patriots got the ball first, but it looks like the noise is already playing a factor.
Tom Brady and the offense seemed to struggle with the crowd noise, as we saw at times in Baltimore, and that could be a big problem for the Patriots offense especially against such a talented Seattle defensive front.
3:41 p.m.: As it inches closer and closer to game time, the excitement for kickoff just continues to grow for the Patriots.
Aaron Hernandez, who we've talked about at length already, is clearly the story of the day as he's set to make his return to the Patriots lineup. But there are a few other keys to consider for the Patriots as they enter the showdown in Seattle.
1. How do the Patriots make up for Dont'a Hightower? — Hightower wasn't active for the Patriots against the Broncos either, but this week New England will face a much more potent rushing attack and his presence should be missed a lot more. Marshawn Lynch is running about as well as any back in the NFL this season, and setting the edge on defense will be important in containing Lynch and even quarterback Russell Wilson.
2. Which Devin McCourty shows up? — McCourty was maligned for the first few weeks of the season, as his success was overlooked but his mistakes were glaring. An impressive showing against Buffalo raised hopes of a turnaround, but he seemed lost once again last week as Peyton Manning picked him apart at times. If the Pro Bowl-caliber McCourty shows up in Seattle then Wilson will have a very tough time finding success through the air. The question now is, which McCourty will we see.
3. Aaron Hernandez, enough said. — Hernandez is back, but how big of a role will he play in the offense? Reports indicated a lesser role for the tight end, but how much less? Hernandez is a vital cog to this offensive unit, even if they've found success without him, but they're much more dangerous with him at full strength. If he can stay on the field for even 20 snaps, and play them effectively, then the Patriots offense will have a much better chance of success against a big, physical and imposing Seahawks defense.
3:22 p.m.: With a bit of a shakeup on the Patriots defense here against the Seahawks, there are definitely a few major questions that remain ahead of kickoff.
Dont'a Hightower's absence for the second straight week should have an impact on the pressure off the outside and could make a typically strong rush defense into a vulnerable position.
Tracy White, Hightower's typical backup, is also unavailable against Seattle meaning Carpenter and Rob Ninkovich will have to account for the loss on the outside. They will be relied upon heavily to help contain Marshawn Lycnh, who has beem a beast this season — yes, beast mode — and the rest of the Seahawks attack.
The defense should turn into an interesting storyline on the afternoon, but with an improving Brandon Spikes and the ever-consistent Jerod Mayo, there should still be a steadying presence in that second level.
3:03 p.m.: Just because Aaron Hernandez is active against the Seahawks on Sunday doesn't necessarily mean he's going to see a lot of action.
Hernandez, who hasn't played in a game since spraining his ankle in a Sept. 16 game against the Cardinals, is active but will reportedly have a limited role in the Patriots offense.
Daniel Fells, who is active for his third straight game, will likely have a bigger role in the offense and could even see a few more passes come his way this week.
Wes Welker and Deion Branch will continue to fill the void out wide, so Hernandez shouldn't be too heavily leaned upon in his return.
2:37 p.m.:There's no doubt anymore, Aaron Hernandez is back for the Patriots.
While Dont'a Hightower, Julian Edelman and Tracy White were already ruled out for the Patriots in Seattle, four other players joined them as inactives for the game against the Seahawks.
Sebastian Vollmer, who had been questionable heading into Sunday, is active and expected to start against Seahawks.
Check out the inactives for both New England and Seattle for today's game.
WR Julian Edelman
LB Dont'a Hightower
LB Tracy White
DL Jake Bequette
S Steve Gregory
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
C Matt Tennant
WR Charly Martin
SS Winston Guy
CB Danny Gorrer
CB Jeremy Lane
DT Clinton McDonald
G John Moffitt
DT Jaye Howard
2:17 p.m.: Less than a month since severely spraining his ankle in a game against the Cardinals, Aaron Hernandez is expected to return to the field for the Patriots on Sunday.
While Hernandez is anticipated back, it appears rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower and wide receiver Julian Edelman, who returned to practice this week, have already been ruled out for New England.
Hightower's backup at the outside linebacker position, Tracy White, has also been ruled out, meaning that recently re-signed linebacker Bobby Carpenter will probably play a larger role in his second game back with the Pats.
The inactive list should be released shortly with the Patriots needing to fill four more spots, which could still include Hernandez.
11 a.m. ET: He's back. Aaron Hernandez will return to the field Sunday afternoon.
The Patriots, who will be facing
a raucous environment in Seattle, may need him more than
ever, even if it is in a limited role.
Tom Brady and the offense have been rolling at a historic level in recent weeks, scoring 30 points or more in each of their past three games. But entering a showdown with the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense, Brady will need his full arsenal of weapons to keep up the pace.
Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden have combined to give the Patriots a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield for the first time in what feels like forever, and New England will need them to maintain the consistency on offense.
Seattle's Brandon Browner, Chris Clemons and K.J. Wright will do their best to make sure that Ridley and Brady don't find much success on Sunday. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch will try to power the Seahawks offense against an inconsistent New England secondary.
The action gets started at 4:05 p.m., but we'll have all your news, notes and analysis ready before then. So, be sure to stick here for everything you need to know about your New England Patriots.
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