We waited all day for Sunday night and boy, was it worth the wait! Most fans of any football team may find it difficult to take a loss gracefully but losing this game should not leave you with the usual defeated feeling. Despite the loss, this team’s performance showed how much promise they have for rest of the season and showed massive growth from just one week ago. Imagine what this team could be like in just a few more?
Unlike in week one, the team had many players struggling against this Seahawks team, including the well renowned defense from last year. The run game was also virtually shut down, which was certainly unfortunate but also beneficial as Newton was able to show his arm talents all game long.
There were, however, several guys who had standout games in a positive way. Some new faces were given a chance and the offense showed what a dominating force they could potentially be this season.
Last week against the Dolphins, a fumble in the endzone overshadowed N’Keal Harry’s overall improved performance. If you were still on the fence about him due to that play, he shut down your doubts against the Seahawks.
With a new quarterback giving the younger guys more chances, N’Keal ended the game with 8 receptions (12 targets) for 72 yards. The most impressive part of the night for Harry was on the final drive of the game. The Patriots were down 5 and needed a touchdown to win. Harry had 3 catches on this drive, one of which was a 12 yard contested catch, setting the offense on the 1-yard-line with three seconds left on the clock.
The team was not able to successfully run the ball into the end zone to win the game, but Harry’s important catches on that final drive were impressive. In just the first two weeks of the season, Harry has more receptions and yards than his rookie year, totaling 13 receptions for 111 yards in 2020 vs 12 receptions for 105 yards in 2019.
The trajectory N’Keal is on so far is thrilling. Cam Newton’s trust in the young receiver so early in his tenure as the new Patriots quarterback is also noteworthy. We have had the opportunity to see more of what Harry is capable of and why the team drafted him with their first round pick in 2019.
There is rarely ever any doubt in a Patriots’ fans’ mind that Julian Edelman will show up and show out in several games a season. In week 1, he didn’t have a bad performance by any means. However, against a tough opponent in the Seahawks AT Seattle, Edelman had the best statistical game of his entire career.
The chemistry and connection between Edelman and Newton is already quite the site to see. Having a slow start to the game and a dropped pass, Edelman ended the night with 8 receptions on 11 targets for 179 yards, one of which was for 49 yards. To top it all off, 6 of those catches were for more than 15 yards. Nobody ever said the man wasn’t clutch, that’s for sure. His production also came despite having all-pro safety Jamal Adams on his back for most of the night. Not to mention, Edelman was also listed on the injury report this week with a banged-up knee.
Julian will be the guy Newton will rely on the most this season. He is dependable and a workhorse. There were many concerns coming into this season with how well he would do or what could be expected of him without catching balls from Tom Brady. But the future seems very bright with Newton under center.
Cam Newton had a standout performance in week 1 but was able to outperform himself against the Seahawks this week. We were finally able to see Newton get the opportunity to throw the ball more in this game which will help all the, “this team can’t sustain Newton running the ball 15+ times a game” crowd.
Ending the game with 30 receptions for 397 yards (longest for 49 yards) and one passing touchdown, Newton demonstrated he can still sling the football down the field like his former MVP self. He completed 15 passes of 10+ yards downfield and used a variety of receivers throughout the night. Any concern about the health of his shoulder is thrown out the window.
Of course, the night would not be complete if he wasn’t also successful with running the ball as well. Cam ran in two touchdowns once again and added to his long list of records as well. With his all-time career rushing yards sitting at 4,928 yards, Newton tied with Randall Cunningham for second most rushing yards by a quarterback, only being surpassed by Michael Vick.
Damiere Byrd, Rex Burkhead, Chase Winovich
A few new faces made their presence known in this game, most notably that of Damiere Byrd. Ending the game with 6 receptions for 72 yards, Byrd was able to boost this offense and help move the chains. The familiarity and trust between Byrd and Cam was apparent, as they were also teammates for three years in Carolina previously. It’ll be interesting to see if Byrd can build on this game and how many more opportunities he will get in the coming weeks.
Rex Burkhead also made a splash against the Seahawks, filling in for the inactive James White. Burkhead and White have always had similar play, as they both are highly successful in their positions as well as the passing game, and Rex stepped up nicely in White’s absence. The running backs struggled throughout the night but Burkhead was able to make 4 receptions for 47 yards, with a long of 19 yards. He was the most reliable of backs for Cam and his versatility will continue to be beneficial for this team.
The defense was clearly not at its best on Sunday night, but Chase Winovich managed to make a couple good plays during the game. In the first two games of his second season, Wino has shown massive improvement. With 3 total tackles (1 solo), credit for 0.5 sacks and tackles for loss and 2 quarterback hits, he is on the path to stardom for this defense.
In week 1 against the Dolphins, the offensive line deserved praise for their blocking which allowed all running backs on the Patriots to go for 217 yards on 42 carries. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about this week’s game.
Although they were able to keep a clean pocket for Cam Newton most of the night, the protection for the run game was just not there nor was the production from the top backs available. The team ended with 67 yards on 25 carries with an average of 2.7 yards-per-carry. (YPC) This simply won’t cut it for the rest of the season and successful running routes should not be left up to the quarterback every week.
With rookie J.J. Taylor entering the mix and Damien Harris due to return from injury soon, it will be interesting to see what happens with those in the backfield. Is Harris the guy the team needs? Will Taylor emerge as a run threat? Keep an eye on these guys over the next few games.
The defense was lackluster all night long, much to the surprise of most fans. The struggles of the front seven attempting to stop the run reared its ugly head once again against a hot Seattle offense. The Seahawks running backs had 30 carries for 154 yards which is 6 yards shy of being double the yardage from the Dolphins last week.
After having a couple of interceptions last week, the secondary also took a turn for the worse this week. Like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Wilson did not shy away from throwing in Stephon Gilmore’s direction, who was covering D.K. Metcalf all evening. It is worth noting, however, on Metcalf’s 54-yard touchdown, there was nothing more Gilmore could have done to prevent the score. With tight coverage, Gilmore was within inches of coming up with the ball himself.
The worst of the night would have to be Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson. After their exceptional playing last week, the two had a big off night against the Seahawks receivers. Allowing a total of 5 receptions for 86 yards and 3 touchdowns, it was not the performance from the two that we’re used to seeing. McCourty was beat twice for touchdowns by both speedy receiver Tyler Lockett and David Moore who had one of the biggest catches of the night.
It is possible there’s still some rust to be worked off for these players. It is also possible that it will be difficult for almost any team to stop this Seahawks offense. Only time will tell.
Gone are the days of not worrying about if the kicker can make a field goal or an extra point and boy, are those stress-free days missed. Nick Folk missed another field goal this week, this time from 51 yards. Different from last game, those three points were sorely missed as the offense was fighting its way to win the game in the final seconds. Had Folk not missed (and the offense didn’t have an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt), the team would’ve only been down 2 points, allowing them to secure the win with a field goal and not needing a touchdown.
The takeaway from this game should be optimism for the future. Week 1 gave fans a taste of what this new offense could bring to the table and this Sunday night game gave a full look at what it could be. Cam is an elite passer and will only continue to improve as his confidence and familiarity with the franchise grows. New faces are stepping up and Julian is still at his high-performing self. Seattle has been a tough opponent for many years now, especially played at Century Link Field. The team’s performance against such a prolific team in week 2 should be praised.
I also wanted to make sure to address the devastating news announced before the game on Sunday night. James White’s parents were reportedly in a car crash. James’ father, Tyrone, did not survive and his mother, Lisa, has been hospitalized in critical condition. Myself and the team at Full Press Patriots send our heartfelt condolences and love to James and the entire White family during this tragic time. Thank you for your service, Mr. Tyrone White and may you rest peacefully.
Photo credits to Elaine Thompson of AP Photo, John Froschaur of AP Photo and Joe Nicholson of USA TODAY Sports
–Sara Marshall is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @sarmarxo