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Four Ups, Four Downs From Patriots’ Loss To Seahawks

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Kyle Arrington (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Kyle Arrington (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — That was ugly.

The Patriots certainly had their fair share of opportunities but failed to capitalize, and it eventually came back to bite them.

After some weeks, it’s difficult to find four negatives from the Patriots, but that won’t be any trouble this week. Let’s not waste any more time (like the Patriots did before halftime) and get into the four ups and four downs from the 24-23 loss to the Seahawks.

Four Downs

Tom Brady
It’s normally an odd decision to critique a quarterback who throws for 395 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but Brady made far too many mistakes in this one. He was called for two intentional grounding penalties, including one before halftime which forced a 10-second runoff that robbed the Pats of a chance to kick a field goal. He also threw two interceptions, including one in the end zone which once again took points off the board for the Patriots.

Even with the 395 yards, Brady averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt, which isn’t exactly lights out. Brady is graded on a different level than other quarterbacks, but despite some excellent plays on Sunday, he just made too many mistakes.

Coaching/Clock Management
It wasn’t incredibly stupid for the Patriots to attempt to run a play with just six seconds left in the first half, but the offense should have never been in that situation to begin with.

After the defense forced a turnover and gave the Patriots the ball at the Seattle 24-yard line, Brady connected with Wes Welker for a gain of 15 yards, setting up the Patriots for a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line. The team could have either called timeout or rushed to the line to run the next play. Instead, they did neither, letting nearly 20 seconds run off the clock before calling a timeout.

Brady threw to Danny Woodhead over the middle after the timeout, forcing the Patriots to call their final timeout. Brady then threw behind Gronkowski in the end zone, leaving six ticks on the clock. Brady then threw the ball away out the back of the end zone, getting called for intentional grounding and taking points off the board for the Patriots.

Clearly, that was a huge missed opportunity for the Patriots, and it can be traced back to the indecision after the first-down gain of 15.

The Pats also had to burn two second-half timeouts due to mistakes, once having 12 men on the field on defense and once after the offense simply wasn’t ready after a first-down run. Those timeouts would have been pretty useful when the Patriots were trying to drive with 1:14 left in the game.

Secondary
It’s hard to single anyone out in the secondary, but Kyle Arrington would be a good place to start. He was so bad in the opening quarter that he ended up getting benched in favor of rookie Alfonzo Dennard.

But as a unit, the secondary struggled tremendously, either by giving up deep passes or committing pass interference (or both at the same time, on occasion). They allowed Russell Wilson to throw for 293 yards and three touchdowns. He entered the game averaging 163 yards and one touchdown per game.

The rookie QB played well, but in no way is that kind of performance acceptable for the Patriots’ secondary, which really looks to be out of answers. They can’t recognize when the ball is getting to the receiver, they routinely blow coverages and they’re just not a championship unit.

Rushing Game
Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden have been a two-headed wrecking crew recently, but the running game was nowhere to be found on Sunday afternoon in Seattle.

Ridley finished with 34 yards on 16 carries, Bolden had 28 yards on six carries and Woodhead picked up 25 yards on four carries. That was it.

Clearly, the game plan took the emphasis off the rushing game, but when their numbers were called, the running backs were unable to make many positive plays. The offensive line deserves criticism there too, of course.

It haunted the Patriots late in the game, when they just needed a first down to run out the clock, eventually forcing the Patriots to attempt passes where most teams would run.

Four Ups

Wes Welker
Even though he’s been doing it since 2007, Wes Welker continues to find new ways to impress as a Patriot. He absorbed a massive shot from Brandon Browner in the second quarter while picking up a first down, but he missed just two plays before re-entering the game to pick up 11 yards on a third-and-10.

He finished the game with 10 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, and he continues to be excellent, even in defeat.

Stephen Gostkowski
The kicker got off to a slow start this season, missing a few easy field goals, including a would-be game-winning kick against Arizona in Week 2. Heading into a chilly, rainy and windy Seattle this week, it was fair to question how the kicker would perform.

Despite the conditions, Gostkowski was perfect, going 3-for-3 on field goals. None was longer than 35 yards, but each was just about perfect. While it didn’t lead to a victory on Sunday, his consistency appears to be back, which the Patriots will need going forward.

Chandler Jones
The rookie didn’t put on a dominant performance, but he did record two sacks, one of which forced a fumble and a turnover. Jones actually led the entire team with nine tackles by the end of the game.

Aaron Hernandez
His snaps were definitely limited in his first game back from injury, but he proved he’s still a very large part of the Patriots offense. He caught a pass from Tom Brady on the very first offensive snap of the game, and he ended up with six catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. He certainly didn’t look 100 percent making his cuts, but it was a solid return from a key player in the Patriots’ offense.

Read more from Michael by clicking here, or follow him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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