It really is amazing how things work out sometimes. Or, in the case of Sunday’s Patriots-Seahawks game, how the thing that infamously did not work out for one team turned into a similarly unsuccessful moment for the other.
New England was facing Seattle for the first time since Super Bowl XLIX, in February 2015. You remember how that game ended, right? Just as refresher, with the Seahawks down 28-24 but at the New England goal line in the final moments, Russell Wilson threw a game-sealing interception.
In the immediate aftermath of that painful defeat, millions of Americans, not to mention a few members of the Seahawks themselves, wondered why the team did not try to run the ball into the end zone, particularly with Marshawn Lynch playing so effectively. Well, fast-forward 21 months and the cleat was on the other foot, albeit in a decidedly lower-stakes contest.
With the Patriots down a touchdown in the closing moments Sunday, they got all the way to the Seahawks’ goal line. In fairness, the team did run the ball three straight times, but they were stymied on all three plays. Facing a do-or-die fourth down from the 2, New England called a pass play, which failed when Rob Gronkowski, after getting tangled up with Seattle’s Kam Chancellor, was not able to corral Tom Brady’s pass.
Cue the oh-so-familiar second-guessing (not to mention trolling) . ..
Having retired, Lynch wasn’t available for either team, but it wasn’t like New England didn’t have its own Beast-ly goal-line option. LeGarrette Blount had already used his 6-foot, 250-pound frame to charge in for three scores in the game, including twice from the 1. While he did get one crack at a touchdown during the final sequence, Brady was used twice on quarterback sneaks before his pass to Gronkowski, giving Monday morning quarterbacks plenty of material.
Many Patriots fans will also gripe that Chancellor wasn’t called for pass interference while defending Gronkowski. However, it appeared that the New England tight end was at least as responsible for the contact on the fourth-down play, as he charged straight into the star safety before turning to look for the ball. Even that mirrored the 2015 Super Bowl, in which Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler made contact with Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette before making his crucial pick.
Despite the loss Sunday, just the second in the Patriots’ past 104 home games in which they led in the fourth quarter (let that sink in for a moment), New England (7-2) will still be heavily favored to represent the AFC in this season’s Super Bowl. The NFC spot could well be taken by Seattle (6-2-1), two games up in its division.
Who wouldn’t want to see that rematch? The only surprise would be if it didn’t come down to a last-minute, goal-line play.