DANNY ONEIL

O’Neil: Seahawks and Patriots add yet another thrilling finish from 1 yard out

Sep 20, 2020, 10:42 PM
Seahawks Patriots...
The Seahawks escaped with a win by stopping Cam Newton at the goal line. (AP)
(AP)

Russell Wilson was responsible for the win, L.J. Collier gets credit for his first career save, and we should just go ahead and assume that any time the Seattle Seahawks play the New England Patriots that the game is going to be decided by a single play from the 1-yard line in the final minute.

Recap: Hawks beat Pats | Unlikely duo saves the day | Instant Reaction

It happened in the Super Bowl meeting between these two teams five years ago on that play which we don’t speak of. It happened again in the regular-season meeting in New England back in November 2016 when Kam Chancellor locked up with Rob Gronkowski and the pass fell incomplete.

It happened again on Sunday in Seattle only this time it was Cam Newton – who had been the closest thing to unstoppable for much of the previous 30 minutes – who wound up getting tipped over by the Seattle defensive lineman that too many people dubbed a bust, but we’ll get back to that in a bit.

First, everybody go ahead and exhale. That was a close one: Seattle 35, New England 30. An instant classic, and while it’s possible to bemoan the first-half mistakes that kept Seattle from building a lead or the third-and-1 pass that gave the Patriots their final possession, I would encourage everyone to sit back for a minute, perhaps pour something flammable over a glass with some ice cubes in it, and toast Seattle’s good fortune.

What a game. This wasn’t a grudge match so much as a duel between Wilson and Newton. Wilson, who matched his career-high with five touchdown passes, and Newton, who passed for 397 yards and rushed for two touchdowns. Wilson, who threw a 54-yard rainmaker of a touchdown in the first half to DK Metcalf and followed it up with an absolutely ludicrous 38-yarder to David Moore in the second. Newton, who looked more accurate a passer than perhaps he ever was in his first nine seasons in the league, which included an MVP campaign.

Wilson threw five touchdown passes to five different players, and Newton spent much of Sunday night looking like he could not be stopped until that final play, when he was. And we’re going to get to that, I promise. Just not quite yet.

Because with just under 4:32 left in the fourth quarter, Seattle looked like it had this game pretty much salted away. Wilson had completed an 18-yard scoring pass to Chris Carson, and the Seahawks led by 12 points.

That provided a sufficient cushion. Barely.

The Patriots drove 75 yards in 2:16, cutting the deficit to five after Newton’s 1-yard touchdown run. To say Seattle went three-and-out on its next possession is technically true, but doesn’t tell the whole story. On third down, Seattle needed 1 yard and it went for 30, Wilson throwing down the sideline for Tyler Lockett, the ball sailing just beyond his reach.

The Patriots got the ball back at their own 19 with 1:42 left. Nine plays later, New England was at the Seattle 1 without ever having faced so much as a third down.

With 3 seconds left, no one had any timeouts, and for the third time in five years, a game between the Seahawks and the Patriots was decided by a goal-line play in the final minute.

But the actual way this game was decided? No one saw that coming as New England came 1 yard away from erasing a double-digit deficit in the final 3 minutes only to have Newton upended by Collier on the game’s final play.

You remember him, right? The defensive end the Seahawks chose in the first round of the 2019 draft? He’s the guy too many people described as a bust after a rookie season that was derailed by an ankle injury before it ever got going. Well, he fought off a block and penetrated into the backfield.

Lano Hill deserves a mention, too. He’s the third-string free safety who was forced into action because of the ejection of starter Quandre Diggs and a knee injury to his backup, Marquise Blair. Hill got lower than the fullback who was charged with rooting him out, Collier got to the outside, and Newton – who had been unstoppable for much of the game – never had a chance on that final play.

Follow Danny O’Neil on Twitter.

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O’Neil: Seahawks and Patriots add yet another thrilling finish from 1 yard out