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Patriots roar back in 24-21 win

In a must-win game for New England, its defense held on despite more key injuries while Matt Cassel and Wes Welker led the Patriots to a 24-21, heart-pumping win.


Little did Bill Belichick know when his team signed Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin earlier in the week that both Vince Wilfork and Tedy Bruschi would leave the game early with injuries. Forced to play most of the second half right off the street, Seau, Colvin and the rest of the Patriots defense held on just enough to allow Matt Cassel and the Patriots offense wage a come from behind win against the Seattle Seahawks.

Cassel saw significant pressure throughout the game from the Seattle defense but managed to keep his team alive in the most critical situations. He was 26 of 44 passing for 268 yards and a touchdown. Wes Welker was his main target, catching 12 balls for 134 yards. Unlike last week when New England converted a measly seven percent of its third downs, on this day they were good for 56 percent (10 of 18) and 1 for 1 on fourth down.

New England stormed back with 11 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to come up with the win.

Seattle had a very easy time of going 87 yards on its first possession for the game's first touchdown. Aside from a Leonard Weaver run for 15 yards and a Wallace keeper for 13, it was all west coast, rhythm plays, 13 in all, that moved the chains. The final one was a 14-yard pass to Deion Branch in the end zone with Brandon Meriweather in coverage.



]()New England got three points back on a 50-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. It was a 9-play drive, still in the first quarter, made possible mostly by a short pass to Welker who turned it into a 20-yard gain and a Seahawks holding penalty on third and 1 that kept the drive alive.

The start of the second quarter had Seattle driving again with the Patriots defense becoming increasingly thin. In addition to Ty Warren being a game time scratch, Vince Wilfork left the game after the Seahawk's first drive with a shoulder injury. During this drive, Bruschi limped off the field after being hit on the left knee.

On the play following Bruschi's injury, Wallace looked deep to John Carlson and connected for 25 yards to the Patriots 21. Wallace then kept around the left side for 11 yards. From the 10-yard line, Seau's dive was too late and Carlson caught a short pass that he took into the end zone for a 14-3 Seattle lead.

New England needed a spark and Ellis Hobbs provided one on the ensuing kickoff. From his 2, Hobbs went 55 yards to the Seattle 43.

Cassel immediately looked to Moss for 13 yards to the 30, keeping the Seattle defense on its heels. Four straight running plays moved the ball to the 11. On second and 2 from there, Cassel went back to Moss being covered by Marcus Trufant. Trufant sealed off Moss from the ball and never looked back and was flagged for pass interference.

With the penalty, New England moved to the 2-yard line, first and goal. On the next play Cassel found Benjamin Watson in the back of the end zone to end the first half scoring with 9:09 left.

It wasn't until 2:40 was left in the third quarter that either team added to the 14-10 score. It was Gostkowski's 42-yarder that brought New England within 1. On the scoring drive, Cassel was under pressure throughout but managed to keep the drive alive. In particular, his 12-yard completion to Welker over the middle on third and 4 while being hit by two Seahawks was key.

Seattle went on offense after the Patriots field goal. After a holding penalty, Branch caught a ball along the sideline, left Seau grasping air, reversed field and went 63 yards to the Patriots 9-yard line. Two plays later it was Branch again from 4 yards out, a little floater that Branch hauled in with one hand to give Seattle a 21-13 lead with :41 left in the third quarter.



]()The Patriots needed to keep pace and Cassel was up to the challenge. He converted a third and 10 with a 28-yard completion to Jabar Gaffney and later turned a gutsy call from the sideline into a 33-yard completion to Randy Moss on third and 7. That play set up the Patriots first and 10 at the Seahawks 13. Seattle's defense stiffened from there. Cassel's third and 6 pass to Moss in the end zone fell incomplete and Gostkowski was good on a 27-yard field goal to make the score 21-16.

The Patriots makeshift defense managed to stop the Seahawks on their next series. After the punt, New England took over on its 29.

Once again, Cassel took his lumps throughout the drive but converted one third down after another. Faulk caught an 11-yard ball on third and 5. Gaffney held on to a five yard pass on third and 5. But the biggest was Welker's catch on third and 10 from the Seattle 44 for 13 yards. On the very next play, Welker caught a little slip screen and turned it into a 25-yard play down the left sideline. It took four more plays but on fourth and goal from the 1, Morris dove and just made it into the end zone.

Up by one point at 22-21, New England went for the two-point conversion. From the shotgun, Cassel found his favorite target of the day, Welker, to give the Patriots a field goal lead with just under three minutes to play.

Seattle had no time outs to work with but managed to get on the Patriots side of the field due mainly to Wallace's legs. But on second and 11 from the 44, Meriweather was unleashed on a safety blitz and got to Wallace just as he was receiving his shotgun snap. Wallace lost the ball and Richard Seymour recovered.

Just like that the game was over. New England had survived and with the Jets losing and Miami winning, the AFC East had three teams on top with 8-5 records.

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