Some assorted notes and observations from the New England Patriots’ 35-30 road loss to the Seattle Seahawks on “Sunday Night Football”:
— The Patriots received tragic news before kickoff as running back James White was informed that his father, Tyrone, had been killed in a car crash in Florida. White’s mother, Lisa, also was in the vehicle and reportedly was in critical condition.
White, one of the Patriots’ eight team captains, was inactive for the game.
Multiple Patriots players offered their condolences during their postgame video conferences, including safety Devin McCourty, who saluted White after returning an interception for a touchdown on the game’s first drive.
“Just devastating,” said McCourty, White’s teammate since 2014 and a fellow co-captain. “It’s been just a rough year, man. I think our hearts are heavy for James. It’s just tough, man. There’s just no words you can say. There’s nothing that you can do in that situation. We just wanted to go out there and really play our hearts out for him. But it’s just devastating, and I was heartbroken for him.”
Special teams captain Matthew Slater shared similar sentiments.
“There are things that are so much bigger than this game,” Slater said. “And today was a reminder of that. Life is such a fragile thing. You just assume that you will wake up and go about your day and return safely, but life doesn’t happen like that.
“For our brother to lose his father and for his parents to be in that accident, it hit us all in the heart. We were struggling. We haven’t processed it yet. That takes time. I don’t have the words to describe how I feel.”
Slater called White “a quiet gentlemen.”
“He’s a humble person who just loves being around this team, and he serves us in so many ways,” Slater said. “We’re so thankful and fortunate to have a guy like that who sets a tremendous example for guys young and old. I look at James White, and I say to myself, ‘Man, that’s a guy who’s doing it the right way.’ He means a great deal to our team. It’s hard for me to put into words what he means to our team, but he means very, very much.”
White planned to fly back with the team to New England afterward, according to a pregame report from NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya.
“Of course, our hearts to out to him,” head coach Bill Belichick said.
White also received support on social media from several former Patriots and collegiate teammates, including Tom Brady, J.J. Watt and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson, White’s teammate at Wisconsin, also shares some comforting words during his postgame interview with Tafoya.
“My heart’s heavy, because one of my teammates, James White, from Wisconsin, one of the nicest guys, teammates, one of the hardest workers, one of the best people I know, had a tough one losing his dad,” Wilson said. “My heart’s been heavy all day thinking about him. … James, I’m praying for you man if you can hear me.”
— After a dominant rushing performance against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, the Patriots struggled to move the ball on the ground against Seattle.
New England running backs Sony Michel (seven carries for 19 yards), Rex Burkhead (six for 2) and J.J. Taylor (one for -1) averaged a minuscule 1.4 yards per carry in the loss.
Quarterback Cam Newton led all Patriots rushers for the second consecutive game, finishing with 47 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Twenty-five of his rushing yards came on two fourth-quarter scrambles.
New England finished with just 67 total rushing yards, 150 fewer than they racked up a week earlier.
“When they take that away, you have to find different ways to move the football,” Newton said. “(The Seahawks) watched film and probably saw us last week have a lot of success in the run game, and they had a plan. Make no mistake about it, the Seattle Seahawks are a great football team. We are a great football team as well. It was great for us to be able to see where we can kind of figure it out, and we just fell short.”
— Newton’s first touchdown pass in a Patriots uniform went to an unlikely receiver: fullback Jakob Johnson, who became just the second German-born player ever to score an NFL touchdown.
Former New York Giants defensive tackle Markus Kuhn was the first, scoring on a fumble recovery in 2014.
“Of course it was a good feeling,” Johnson, a product of the NFL’s International Pathway Program, said in his postgame video conference. “But I definitely would have preferred to come out of here with a win for the team.”
— After playing 56 snaps without a single target against Miami, wide receiver Damiere Byrd was heavily involved in the Patriots’ offense Sunday night.
Newton targeted his former Carolina Panthers teammate a total of nine times — a career high for Byrd — resulting in six catches for 72 yards. Five of Byrd’s receptions resulted in first downs, including on third-and-7 and another on third-and-10.
Byrd was only the third-most-productive Patriots pass-catcher, however, as fellow wideouts Julian Edelman (11 targets, eight catches, 179 yards) and N’Keal Harry (12 targets, eight catches, 72 yards) both set career highs for receiving yards.
Harry has 13 catches through two games this season, more than he had in seven games as a rookie in 2019.
— Patriots outside linebacker Chase Winovich is off to a strong start in his second pro season.
The 2019 third-round draft pick consistently worked his way into the Seahawks’ backfield, tallying half a sack, two QB hits and six total pressures — as many as the rest of the Patriots’ defense combined, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
— A decades-long streak was broken Sunday night. According to NBC commentator Al Michaels, this was the first Patriots game team owner Robert Kraft did not attend since he purchased the team in 1994.
— It’s a real shame that the Patriots and Seahawks only play every four years. Games between these two franchise are guaranteed thrillers.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images