By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — How’s that for entertainment value?
Sure, in New England, the goal is to rack up victories instead of providing an entertainment value. But even though this one went down in the loss column for the Patriots, there was plenty to like to balance some of the negative aspects of the 35-30 loss in Seattle.
As is tradition after a Patriots loss, we’re starting with the downs.
Defense. Defense. Defense.
Busted coverages. Getting beaten in man. No push in the running game.
The Patriots’ defense got worked.
Outside of Devin McCourty’s pick-six — which was gift-wrapped by Greg Olsen — the Patriots’ defense struggled for much of the evening.
They allowed Russell Wilson to throw five touchdowns. And they allowed Seattle to rush for 154 yards on 30 carries.
The defense did come up with a late stop to give the team a chance at the end … but that was also thanks in large part to Pete Carroll being addicted to going with passing plays when his team needs a single yard to beat the Patriots.
Overall, it was an ugly one for the Patriots’ defense, and they’ll all be getting earfuls in the meeting rooms this week.
Playing cornerback in the NFL is one of the hardest jobs in sports. Nobody can play it perfectly.
Still, Gilmore has set some seriously high expectations for himself, so whenever he’s getting beaten for 54-yard touchdowns, it’s going to go down as a disappointment.
Gilmore played angry after surrounding the 54-yard bomb to D.K. Metcalf, to the point where he was willing to fight the entire Seattle sideline. That spirit showed yet another reason why Bill Belichick loves him the way that he does. And the touchdown itself was just the latest spectacular bomb from Russell Wilson. There’s not much shame in giving that one up.
Nevertheless, it was a TD, and it was No. 24 giving it up, so by requirement it lands on the Downs.
Cam Newton was awesome on Sunday night. But his pick? It wasn’t great.
Newton stared at Damiere Byrd from the moment he took the shotgun snap, and he was not hindered by Quinton Dunbar staring right back at him. The pass was off the mark and the whole play seemed predictable.
In a game where every possession mattered, that turnover hurt — especially when the Seahawks quickly turned it into seven points.
Russell Wilson is obviously one of the best quarterbacks in the world. The defense is going to want to not make things easier for him, as a general rule.
The Patriots surely did that on Freddie Swain’s touchdown, and again on Chris Carson’s touchdown. The former was a blown coverage by the entire defense, so it’s hard to know who was at fault. The second involved Adrian Phillips getting caught completely off guard when Carson burst out of the backfield.
In a game as tightly contested as this one, the Patriots’ defense needed to turn at least one of those drives into field goals. Instead, they were touchdowns. Easy ones.
Maybe it’s not his fault, because nobody outside of Bill Belichick gave him much of a chance to hit it. Nevertheless, his job is to kick the ball through the uprights, and on his 51-yard opportunity in the second quarter, he didn’t even come close.
He hit a chip-shot field goal, and he was 3-for-3 on extra points. And again, it’s not really his fault. But the Patriots clearly no longer have the advantage they had for 25 or so years where they knew that a long bomb from the kicker was always in their back pocket.
BONUS: Jonathan Jones’ Penalty
It didn’t end up hurting on the scoreboard, but Jonathan Jones’ defensive holding penalty on a third-and-19 in the second quarter gave Seattle a fresh set of downs before halftime.
Even without fans in the building, Seattle’s a tough place to play. Starting with a 7-0 lead is a nice little boost.
Devin McCourty provided that on Sunday night. Granted, he didn’t do a whole lot, aside from being in the right place at the right time to intercept a pass — which was deflected by Greg Olsen — and run to daylight. Nevertheless, it was a huge play to start the game, and his end zone message to James White was a special moment.
If there’s a real shame in the Patriots’ losing, it’s that Julian Edelman absolutely emptied his tank on the field but wasn’t able to get a win to show for it.
Edelman had the highest receiving yard total in any game of his career, catching eight passes for 179 yards. That included a 49-yarder that helped lift the Patriots up when they were mounting a comeback, and it included an 18-yarder on the final drive to get the Patriots deep into Seattle territory.
He’s battling a knee injury, and he landed squarely on his neck, and he was totally gassed but nevertheless went up to try to make a game-winning grab late. It was a heck of a performance, no matter which way you slice it.
You know, there used to be a quarterback in New England who had a penchant for leading dramatic, ridiculous, heart-pounding drives at the end of football games. When Tom Brady was under center, the Patriots knew they always had a chance to win.
After Newton’s performance on Sunday, that spirit should stay alive.
Though Newton was stuffed at the goal line on the final play, the quarterback was once again impressive as a dual threat. He threw for 397 yards, which is his third-highest total in a game in his career, and his highest total in a game since 2011.
He rushed for two touchdowns for the second straight week and is a big-time goal-line threat. Granted, a touchdown at the end would have been pretty magical, but it was not in the cards.
That ending shouldn’t erase what was an encouraging performance from Cam Newton, who looks as healthy as he has in years.
The Patriots were penalized just twice on Sunday night. One was the aforementioned Jones holding penalty, and the other was a hold on J.C. Jackson on a punt return. And that’s it. (Though the officials might have missed one more hold.)
The Patriots might have lost some of the advantage they had last year by having the best defense in the world, so playing a clean, tight game within the rules will be needed if they want to remain this competitive every week.