Patriots perusal: 35-30 loss @ Seahawks

The New England Patriots took on the Seattle Seahawks a week after opening the season with a comfortable 21-11 victory over the Miami Dolphins. As the underdogs, the Patriots went toe-to-toe with a top NFC contender, always staying within striking distance and keeping up the pace. The Patriots got the ball down five with under two minutes to go. With three seconds left, the Patriots got to the one-yard line with one play left to determine the winner. Quarterback Cam Newton, who had two rushing touchdowns in the game, attempted to make it three with a QB draw. However, the Seahawks penetrated the backfield and defensive lineman LJ Collier tripped up Newton one-yard short of the goal line. The Seahawks won 35-30, dropping the Patriots record to 1-1. Here is a break down of the game for the Patriots from all three positions.

Offense

Despite being tripped up at the one-yard line, Newton was impressive, showing everyone he is the right man to quarterback the Patriots going forward. Aside from a terrible interception in the third quarter where he led cornerback Quinton Dunbar to jump the pass easily, he threw the ball spectacularly well. He zipped the ball all over the field, especially to Julian Edelman who finished with eight catches for 179 yards.

His connection with Edelman was fantastic but the other two main receivers, N’Keal Harry and Damiere Byrd, stepped up with 72 receiving yards apiece. They used their height and speed to get open, allowing for a quick-strike passing attack.

The main problem for the offense was the interior offensive line as they did not allow any running room for Sony Michel, who finished the game with 19 yards on seven carries. Newton ran for 47 yards but struggled to get running room up the middle, highlighted by the game’s final play.

The Patriots need to get Michel going against the Las Vegas Raiders and find balance to keep their offense off the field. The Patriots cannot afford to keep getting into shootouts with the limited weapons they have.

Defense

The game started perfectly for the defense as Devin McCourty took a Russell Wilson interception to the house in the first two minutes, giving the Patriots an early 7-0 lead. However, it only went downhill from there as Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes and the running game gained 154 yards on the ground.

The Seahawks were hard to stop, especially wide receiver DK Metcalf. Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year winner Stephon Gilmore struggled to contain Metcalf, especially in the first half where Metcalf burned him for a 54-yard TD pass. Gilmore has struggled against other top receivers before, so he needs to keep up with receivers if the Patriots look to slow down opposing offenses. Also, Shilique Calhoun had a sack, a huge result considering the thin linebacking corp but more pressure needs to come as Wilson looked way too comfortable. Head coach Bill Belichick needs to be more aggressive on that side of the ball.

Special teams

Ever since long-time stalwart Stephen Gostkowski suffered injuries and eventually left the team, the Patriots have turned to Nick Folk for the kicking duties. Folk badly missed a 51-yarder in the first half, a huge miss considering the Patriots would have been down two instead of five on their final drive.  Fifth-round draft pick Justin Rohrwasser has struggled throughout camp, meaning Folk is the best option at kicker unless they can find a solid free-agent replacement. The Patriots’ offense needs to help out Folk as he isn’t reliable to make long kicks.

The Patriots’ top draft pick in 2020, Kyle Duggar, made three tackles on defense but most notably, he returned a kickoff 30 yards, a game-high. If he continues to provide solid return yardage, he can not only become a threat to break out but also be a high-impact player on the roster.

Next up

The Patriots will welcome the Las Vegas Raiders to Foxborough on Sunday, a team coming off an impressive 34-24 win over the New Orleans Saints.

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