The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots don't know how to play football games that don't come down to the wire.
Lano Hill and L.J. Collier combined to blow up a power run from Patriots quarterback Cam Newton on the 1-yard line on the final play of the game to hold onto a 35-30 victory on Sunday night.
The Seahawks took a 35-23 lead over the Patriots with 4:32 left to play on a brilliant touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Chris Carson. But after failing to convert a third-and-1 with 1:55 left to play, the Seahawks had to hold on for dear life as Newton and the Patriots marched toward a game-winning score. They would get one chance from the 1-yard line with three seconds left to play to steal a victory for Seattle. However, Hill blew up the lead block of fullback Jakob Johnson and Collier came free to submarine Newton into the air and stop him well short of the end zone to seal away the victory.
In 2012, Russell Wilson and Sidney Rice connected for a late 46-yard touchdown to rally from a 23-10 fourth quarter deficit and steal a 24-23 victory from the Patriots in Wilson's sixth career start. In 2014, the Patriots intercepted Wilson at the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX to keep Seattle from back-to-back Lombardi Trophies. In 2016, Kam Chancellor covered Rob Gronkowski as a Tom Brady pass went sailing incomplete to preserve a 31-24 victory.
Now Seattle's goal line stand adds to the cross-conference rivalry as the Seahawks improve to 2-0 in front of a vacant CenturyLink Field.
Here are the takeaways:
-- Russell Wilson looks like an MVP
Through two weeks of the season it seems like 2020 may finally be the year Wilson chases an Most Valuable Player award.
Wilson tossed five touchdowns passes against the Patriots matching a career-high.
I’m glad that we only have to play him once every four years. I think he’s a tremendous player," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said.
"He does everything well. He’s extremely hard to defend and he hurt us tonight in pretty much every way possible. He’s very difficult to handle."
Through two games, he's thrown nine touchdowns with just one interception. He's been essentially faultless. The lone interception on his resume wasn't his fault either as his first quarter pass to Greg Olsen went through his hands and into the arms of Devin McCourty for a 43-yard touchdown.
"I put tons of work in this game and I want to be the best in the world, but I can't do it alone," Wilson said of the performance. "It's all the guys that we have around me and just they have done a great job of making plays and it's really special group of men that we have on offense and defense and just I'm grateful to be able to play with such amazing guys."
"It's the fourth time in his career he thrown five touchdowns in a game.Wilson had five touchdowns in games at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers and at the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of the 2015 season. He also had five touchdowns in the victory at home last season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's also the first time in his career Wilson has tossed four touchdown passes in consecutive games.
"You can just see that he is really in command of what we’re doing and his receivers came through beautifully," head coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson. "There were so many big plays and great catches. DK (Metcalf)’s bomb. The one (touchdown) to David Moore. The great catch that David Moore made on a third down play where he took the ball off the top of the grass. So many guys. Tyler (Lockett) had a good game. We got Chris (Carson) again in the end zone, on a big play, on a great throw and catch and route and all of that. The throwing game was really alive."
Wilson dropped in two shot touchdowns of 54 yards to Metcalf over and 38 yards to Moore. An 18-yard rainbow throw to Carson gave Seattle what ultimately became the winning score. A 4-yard touchdown pass to Lockett and a 21-yard touchdown to Freddie Swain rounded out Wilson's scoring barrage.
"The fact that everybody touched the ball, we keep talking about that," Moore said. "We talked about that in the third quarter. Everybody was super happy. I just sat there in shock that everybody got a touchdown, all of the receivers. It was cool, it was awesome to see and hopefully we can keep it going."
-- L.J. Collier and Lano Hill come up huge with the game on the line.
With a win or a loss riding on the outcome of one play, L.J. Collier and Lano Hill made the winning play.
Hill took out fullback Jakob Johnson and L.J. Collier knifed into the backfield to blow up Newton and stonewall the Patriots shy of the goal line so Seattle could escape with the victory.
"They were running the same thing all game," Collier said. "Bobby [Wagner] came to us before that and said they were going to run the same play. We were going to slant on it and go with it, and I really just followed my captain, went with him and you see we came up with a big-time play.
"Just to finish it off, it's a hell of a play. Imagine if we had fans here today, Seattle would still be shaking."
The Patriots had used Newton's running prowess frequently near the goal line throughout the evening with Newton scoring touchdowns on a pair of 1-yard carries and tossing a touchdown to Johnson out of a similar look as well. New England went back to a similar play call needing a touchdown to win and the Seahawks crashed the party.
"From what I understand, I didn’t get to see it clearly, L.J. had a great play there and got clean in the backfield and got to the QB on a play that they had been real successful on," Carroll said. "Other guys got up in there as well. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know that everybody was fired up about L.J.’s play. It’s good to see him contribute in that way."
Safety Jamal Adams said he was talking to K.J. Wright before the snap and that he had planned on jumping over the line of scrimmage to try to stop a Newton dive he anticipated was coming. However, when he saw the formation he yelled to Wright that he was scrapping it and that he also thought the power run to the defense's right was coming instead.
"I did not want to make a mistake and jeopardize the team," Adams said. "What a play by not only K.J., but L.J. and Bobby coming down on that backside, the whole line getting penetration. Oh man, what a defensive stand, man. That was big, flipping Cam over and stopping him short of the goal line.
"I thought that Cam was going to go shotgun and try to go under center real quick and try to jump over like he always does."
-- Quandre Diggs ejection, Marquise Blair injury caused trouble for secondary.
The Seahawks had to adapt on the fly with two separate departures from the secondary on Sunday night.
Quandre Diggs was ejected in the first quarter after hitting wide receiver N'Keal Harry with a helmet-to-helmet shot over the middle of the field. Marquise Blair stepped in to replace Diggs only to leave the game himself in the second quarter after sustaining what appears to be a significant knee injury.
That left Seattle down to Lano Hill at free safety and Ugo Amadi as the only potential replacement for the rest of the game.
Carroll said that the team had some issues in the back end of the defense following those losses but needed to evaluate further to see what happened specifically. He also didn't fault the officials for the ejection of Diggs.
"We got in trouble in the back end a couple times tonight," he said. "Gave him some easy stuff that should never have happened. Unfortunately, (Diggs) had to sit out the game because of the hit, that was I'm sure the right thing to do by the league and all that. But unfortunate and it made a difference.
"He knows that he has to keep his head out of those hits.He was so jacked about the setup that he didn’t quite get it to the side like he needs to, and make a shoulder hit out of it. He’s such a steadying force, and he’s so good on the back end and so good on the deep ball. We got out of whack a few times. We have to clean that up."
Carroll's update on Blair after the game wasn't particularly encouraging.
"I'm sick about it," Carroll said. "This guy is just getting started, just getting going with us and it's a real shame. It's probably fairly serious because they had to help him off the field and all of that.
"He's been such a cool part of this team already in this early part of the season and such a significant part."
They will get Diggs back for next week's game against the Dallas Cowboys but Blair's absence is likely to be an extended one that could force the team into making a roster move. Blair has been the team's primary nickel back and has served as the backup free safety. It could even take multiple players to account for the role Blair is vacating if the injury is indeed significant.
-- D.K. Metcalf goes toe-to-toe with Stephon Gilmore in more ways than one.
D.K. Metcalf showed he's ready to ascend to the top of the league's wide receivers in a benchmark matchup against reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore spent all night following Metcalf around the field and taking him in one-on-one matchups. The ongoing battle led to some heated moments between the two that including a shoving match that extended well into the Seahawks bench at one point. But Metcalf won the day with four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown against Gilmore, including the 54-yard bomb where he out-muscled Gilmore to haul in the score.
"It was an illustration of two real frickin’ warriors that wanted to go at it. It’s a cool part of the game inside the game that matched up like that," Carroll said.
"He did a great job; he didn’t back off for a second. He played really good football. ... The big play was the touchdown. It was just a cool battle to watch. Two really terrific football players going at it."
Metcalf and Gilmore were frequently engaged in blocks throughout the game since Gilmore was following Metcalf wherever he lined up. That resulted in shoving after the whistle, shouting back and forth with each other and the spill into the Seattle bench where Gimore toss Metcalf at the end of a run play.
"That was probably the most physical I’ve been with any [defensive back] in my whole career," Metcalf said. "Even counting last year. I would say that was probably the toughest matchup, not just him, but the McCourty twins, J.C. Jackson, they all brought it tonight.
"It’s a physical game at the end of the day. I wasn’t looking for anything less than that. It was Sunday Night Football against a well coached team following Bill Belichick. I know they were going to be coached up and they’re a physical team as well. It was just a physical game is what it boils down to."
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 20: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to pass during the second half against the New England Patriots at CenturyLink Field on September 20, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)