Foxborough, Mass. - Bethel Johnson earned a bit of redemption Sunday. A week after he was left of the team's active roster in what amounted to a coach's decision - supposedly because of a lackluster week of practice - the wide receiver became the latest Patriot to come up with a big play at a key time. His clutch 48-yard career-long reception, with the Patriots leading by three points and facing a third down with just under three minutes remaining, was easily one of the biggest plays of the game.
"I don't really remember," Johnson said when asked about the catch. "I kind of got knocked out a little bit on that. My head hit the ground. I just knew I had to hold on to that ball no matter what."
]()Facing a third-and-seven from their own 40-yard line, Brady rolled to his left and lofted the ball deep down the left side of the field. Johnson, who was lined up wide right, raced from the opposite side of the field to make a diving catch before he slammed into the ground. Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren challenged the play and lost, and Corey Dillon's 9-yard touchdown two plays later sealed the game.
"He made a great catch," Head coach Bill Belichick said. "That was a huge play. [It] changed the field position and put us in position to run the clock out. That was a huge play."
Johnson, who was seemingly in Belichick's doghouse a week ago and was benched against Miami despite a depleted receiving corps, became the latest Patriot to contribute during the team's 20 game winning streak.
"The guy worked so hard in practice, and he's a young guy so you know it means a lot for his confidence," Veteran Rodney Harrison said. "He's on this team because we know he can play football, and he needs to step up - and guys need to step up and make plays when available. Bethel made the play of the game. You have to be proud of him. I've never seen a catch like that before."
Johnson, the fastest player on the Patriots, showed his signature speed closing in on a ball few other players would have reached.
"I guarantee he is the definitely the only guy on this team and probably one of the few in this league who could catch up to that ball because of his speed," Ty Law said. "Hats off to Bethel. We needed that, and he came through. He made a hell of a play."
]()Dillon Delivers** It was questioned much of the week how effective running backCorey Dillon would be coming off a foot injury against Miami. Dillon, who was listed as questionable on the injury report as late as Friday, assumed his spot in the starting lineup against Seattle and finished with 23 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns. For Dillon, at least, there was little question he'd take the field Sunday.
"Not to me," Dillon said when asked he there was any question he would play. "Probably to other people, but not to me. Even if it was questionable whether I could go, I was going to try it anyway. But during the week the soreness went away and I was able to apply pressure on it and it felt good."
Dillon's impact on the Patriots offense was clearly seen Sunday. He gave the offense balance - particularly when playing with the second half lead - rushing for 51 yards in the first half and 54 in the second. His second touchdown with just less than two minutes remaining in the game put the game out of reach. Through five games, Dillon is on pace for a franchise-record 1,670 yards.
"We just took advantage of what they gave us," said Dillon, who had his second 100-yard rushing game with the Patriots. "I'm just playing ball. That's just the way I play ball, and I'm getting a lot of help. I'm getting a lot of help up front."
]()Ty On TopLaw's interception of Seattle'sMatt Hasselbeckin the first quarter was his 36th career interception, tying the team record held byRaymond Clayborn. It was the first interception of the season for Law, who stepped in front of Seattle receiverDarrell Jackson** on the right sideline and held onto the ball before falling out of bounds. The four-time Pro Bowler has played his entire career, spanning 139 career games, for the Patriots. Law is also the Patriots all-time leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns with six.
"That was one of my personal goals this year," Law said. "I wanted to get that. That was real important to me, aside from the team goals. I'm glad I own a piece of it, so now I just have to break it."
There's a reason why Tom Brady doesn't scramble very often. Brady took off on a 6-yard scramble on the first play of the fourth quarter but was hit by Seattle's Chike Okeafor and Michael Boulware, causing a fumble that Seattle recovered on the Patriots 42-yard line. Brady, who had to get stitches to close his chin following last week's win over Miami, appeared a bit dazed and confused after the play but returned on the next series.
"It was disappointing, because I had the first down," Brady said. "A run for eight yards, for me, that's like once a season. I was trying to get as many yards as I could, but the guy hit me and hit me good."
Brady, who said he felt fine and that the hit didn't affect him later in the game, finished the day 19-of-30 passing for 231 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
First Things First
Dan Klecko is the quintessential utility man. The Patriots defensive lineman-turned-linebacker, who normally sees snaps at fullback in goal line and short yardage situations, caught his first NFL pass Sunday. Lined up at fullback on a third-and-five play at Seattle's 40-yard line, Klecko released into the right flat and hauled in an 11-yard pass from Brady for a Patriots first down. The catch helped lead to an Adam Vinatieri 39-yard field goal.
"It was pretty cool," Klecko said. "It's a play we have run a couple times and it's never been there, but today it was there. I just focused on getting the catch and getting the first down for the team."
The Streak Continues
Almost lost in the buzz surrounding Sunday's win is that the Patriots tied the NFL record for most consecutive regular season victories with 17. The Patriots, who have won 20 straight regular and post-season games, tied the mark set by the 1933-34 Chicago Bears.
A Perfect Start
Sunday's win gave the Patriots a perfect 5-0 start to the season, just the second such occurrence in team history and the first time it has happened since 1974. The Patriots also jumped out to 4-0 starts in 1999, 1997, 1974 and 1964. No New England team has ever started a season with a 6-0 mark.
The Patriots listed eight players as inactive for Sunday's game: Wide receivers Deion Branch, Troy Brown and P.K. Sam; offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski; tight end Jed Weaver and defensive linemen Marquise Hill and Ethan Kelley. Jim Miller was designated the third quarterback.
Sunday's attendance was 68,796. It was the 109th consecutive home sellout for the Patriots. ... The Patriots improved to 18-3 all-time at Gillette Stadium in regular and post-season games. They have won an NFL-best 14 consecutive games at home. ... The Patriots used several starters on special teams, including Harrison and Mike Vrabel on the kickoff team. ... Ty Warren recorded his first sack of the season, dropping Hasselbeck for a 5-yard loss on the first play of the game. Jarvis Green also had his first sack of the season. ... The Patriots have notched at least one interception in each of their last 11 regular-season home games. ... David Patten led the Patriots with five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. Brady completed passes to eight different New England receivers. ... Eugene Wilson led the Patriots with 11 total tackles and a forced fumble.