What we learned in the Patriots’ 24-23 loss in Seattle yesterday:
1. Costly mistakes on offense
The offense continues to pile up the yardage (475 yesterday), but Tom Brady and company coughed up several scoring chances. The decision to go for a touchdown with six seconds left in the first half, a decision that resulted in an intentional grounding by Brady that ended the half, and an interception in the end zone early in the fourth quarter took at least six points off the board. Brady threw another pick in Seattle territory on the prior possession and had a second intentional grounding in the fourth. Number 12 was not sharp at all in the second half.
2. Can’t entirely blame the defense
The New England defensive unit continues to do two things very well: Force fumbles and stop the run. The Pats have caused nine fumbles in the last three games, recovering all but two of them. The Seahawks lost two of their three fumbles Sunday; the one they recovered was akin to a turnover as Seattle punter Jon Ryan dropped a snap and was engulfed by New England defenders before he could get off a kick. And by limiting Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards on 15 carries, the league’s eighth-ranked rushing defense (entering the game) effectively eliminated Seattle’s best weapon.
3. You are the weakest link
That said, the secondary continues to get burned on long passes, mostly down the middle, as was the case on Sidney Rice’s game-winning 46-yard TD grab with 1:18 left. New England entered the game having given up 27 passing plays of 20 yards or more, easily the most in the NFL. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had six such completions in this one. There were multiple cases of Patriots defensive backs failing to turn and find a long ball before it was nestled in the opponent’s arms. It’s open season on the Pats’ secondary, which is quite dangerous in a pass-happy league.