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Thu., Aug. 25, 2016 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Thu., Aug. 25, 2016 4:00 PM to 11:59 PM EDT
Fri., Aug. 26, 2016 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EDT
Take Two-sday: Special Attention
Thu., Aug. 25, 2016 11:55 AM to 2:00 PM EDT
There was the offensive play-calling on the final drive, poor clock management at the end of the half, two intentional grounding penalties, the decision to go with base defense on the final drive and countless others. But there was one play we felt was critical in setting up the Seahawks final drive that didn’t receive as much attention and we decided to focus on that.
Leading 23-17 with 2:48 to go, the Patriots were forced to punt. But with the ball at the New England 43, it seemed a sure bet that Seattle would have to travel the length of the field in order to pull off the upset. Turned out the Seahawks needed to go only about half of it.
The fateful punt did not go well in any way. Zoltan Mesko, who is normally quite adept at pinning teams close to their end zone, failed to get off a solid punt. Not only did it travel just 39 yards, landing in Leon Washington’s arms at the Seattle 18, but it also was a low line drive that put a lot of pressure on the return unit.
Two factors then came into play, and neither was good for the Patriots. First, special teams captain Matthew Slater was injured while making a terrific stop on the previous punt just minutes earlier and was unavailable for the final kick. Second, New England lost containment on the left sideline and Washington, one of the best in the business, took advantage.
With 2:38 left and the Seahawks still in possession of a timeout (plus the two-minute warning), Seattle’s offense had the luxury of operating under close to normal circumstances due to the big return. Instead of having to go with the hurry-up and using the sidelines to preserve time, Washington’s return meant rookie Russell Wilson could take his time needing only 57 yards to win it.
This fact cannot be understated, and it even drew the attention of CBS color man Dan Fouts. Fouts was surprised the Seahawks were huddling up rather than rushing in an attempt to grab the lead. But ultimately time wasn’t a factor because the excellent field position meant Seattle simply had to score and wasn’t in danger of running out of time.
Sure enough, Wilson broke the huddle and fired a 46-yard touchdown pass to put his team ahead with 1:18 still remaining. Wilson’s throw to Sidney Rice was perfect, the coverage of the safeties certainly was not, but Washington’s big return allowed it all to happen.