Patriots fail to do what they often do best: close
Bill Belichick was in the middle of his somber postgame news conference Sunday (and no one does somber quite like Belichick) when a television...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Bill Belichick was in the middle of his somber postgame news conference Sunday (and no one does somber quite like Belichick) when a television set in the room suddenly burst into life.
Seattle's Sidney Rice could be heard (and seen) exulting about the Seahawks' 24-23 victory over the New England Patriots. But Belichick was impervious to the interruption, continuing his quiet dissection of a bitter loss.
"They played better than we did, so congratulations to the Seahawks, Pete (Carroll) — they did a good job," Belichick said. "They outplayed us today, outcoached us. They were better than we were."
The New England dynasty under Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady has thrived on closing out close games like this one. But this time it was the Patriots who made — or were forced into — just enough mistakes to fall short.
"I thought we squandered quite a few opportunities today," Brady said. "Certainly, we'll have to do a much better job, and it starts with me."
Two critical junctures of the game were particularly galling to the Patriots — their failure to score from the 3-yard line at the end of the first half, and Rice's decisive 46-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson with 1:27 remaining that sealed Seattle's victory.
In the first instance, time expired after Brady was called for intentional grounding on a third-down play that began with six seconds left. It ended with one second remaining, but the required 10-second runoff ended the half without the Patriots getting even a shot at a field goal.
"We had time to run a play and kick a field goal," Belichick said. "We just didn't do a good job on that play""
Brady shouldered the blame for the breakdown.
"We thought we could take a shot at a touchdown there," he said. "I just have to throw the ball away a little closer to one of our guys. That's why you lose games, because you squander opportunities to score points.
"When the play comes in from the sidelines, they're not thinking we're going to have intentional grounding. They trust me to be smart with the ball and to get three at the worst, and I just made a bad play."
On Rice's touchdown, Patriots rookie safety Tavon Wilson similarly took responsibility for getting beat, as Rice shot past him to make the grab.
"It was a Cover 2, a simple Cover 2," Wilson said. "I've got to go and make the play. They made the play when they needed to make it and I didn't. He ran a route, and I didn't do what I'm supposed to do, and he converted on that play. I don't expect them to take no slack on me because I'm a rookie. I've got to make the play."
Brady, in his first-ever Seattle appearance, ended up throwing more passes — 58 — than in any game of his career. He completed 36 for 395 yards, but was intercepted twice. He had just one interception in his previous five games this season.
"This is a team that really forces you to throw the ball, based on the schemes they play," Brady said. "Whatever we do, we have to do it effectively and efficiently, whether it's running or throwing. We had some real good run plays in there, and some real good pass plays in there. There was just more in the running game and more in the passing game we didn't have. That's why you come up one point short."
Asked if the elements had anything to do with the Patriots' woes, Brady replied, "The opponent was the Seahawks. It wasn't the crowd or the weather or the refs. It was the Seahawks, and we lost to a good football team."
Receiver Wes Welker said the Seahawks' defense was "right up there" with the best they've seen this year. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said Wilson was no more elusive than the Patriots' expected.
"Nope. We knew exactly what he was going to be. Everything they did, we knew what they were going to do. They didn't shock us. Nothing shocked us. We didn't make enough plays."
Added Belichick: "Today is one of those days where we just didn't do enough things well enough. We had a lot of chances, and just all the way across the board, everyone involved in the game, all of us, just didn't do a good enough job. The result is what it was. Just not good enough."