- Dec 3, 2013
- Reaction score
- Eagle River, Ak
That is exactly what I saw during the final play, he had that whole left side open and has the speed and power to get into the end zone, he was just too focused on the play that was called. He'll learn from it and be better for it.Jeff Howe says there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic. I agree.
The Patriots forced Cam Newton to be perfect Sunday in Seattle.
He almost was.
And even in a stinging 35-30 loss, Newton’s performance against the Seahawks might be a long-term net positive for the Patriots. Newton was 30 of 44 for 397 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and he led the way with 11 carries for 47 yards and two touchdowns, all while nearly bringing the Patriots back from a 35-23 deficit in the final 4:32.
“We have a lot of things to be optimistic about, yet we still have to get better,” Newton said. “The reason why you play this game is for one stat and one stat only. We didn’t get that statistic today, and that’s to win. For us, this is a disgusting taste in my mouth. I’ve just got to grow and get better in this offense and hopefully have a better result next week.”
The Seahawks secured the win at the buzzer when they stopped Newton at the 2-yard line for a 1-yard loss. The Patriots called a power running play that had worked so well through two weeks — twice in crucial fourth-quarter situations against the Dolphins and twice Sunday on touchdowns against the Seahawks, including an offshoot of that formation with a pass to Jakob Johnson — but the Seahawks were better with the game on the line, making the decisive stop.
Newton was hard on himself for not finding the end zone with the win in his grasp, noting he could have bounced the run to the outside or just tried to dive over the top of the line.
“I was trying to be patient, just thinking too much,” Newton said. “There were so many things that flashed over me. Playing a fast defense like that, as soon as you guess, you’re wrong. So I’ll definitely learn from this. The play was there. The play has been there all game.”
It was a testament to Newton that the Patriots even had a chance at the end, so that has to be encouraging from a broader perspective. Newton moved the ball with relative ease when the Patriots busted the brakes off the offense.
He answered a lingering question from the season-opening 21-11 victory against the Dolphins: Can the Patriots fly down the field if necessary?
There is now little doubt. After the Seahawks took a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, Newton completed 8 of 12 passes for 124 yards and ran four times for 25 yards and a touchdown. He led a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive and a nine-play, 79-yard drive that came up 2 yards short of the winning touchdown.
Newton was clutch throughout the night, though. On third and fourth downs, he was 7 of 7 for 87 yards with a sack and ran three times for 11 yards. That amounted to eight conversions on 11 plays.
Even though the Patriots were a bit more methodical with their offensive approach in their win against the Dolphins, they were still a fumble at the goal line and a missed field goal away from scoring 31 points. The efficiency has been there for two games — although Nick Folk missed another field goal to further stress the offense.
“There are many ways that you can win in this game,” Newton said. “We don’t want to become one-dimensional. We had our opportunities.”
And as the night unfolded against the Seahawks, Newton needed that type of performance to give the Patriots a chance to win. The defense, which opened the night with Devin McCourty’s interception return for a touchdown, gave up five touchdown passes to quarterback Russell Wilson. The Seahawks also had the edge in time of possession (31:19) by rushing 30 times for 154 yards.
It wasn’t a typical Patriots defensive performance, whether it was Stephon Gilmore, who gave up a 54-yard touchdown reception to DK Metcalf, or Jason McCourty, who was in coverage for touchdown catches by Tyler Lockett and David Moore, or just a large-scale fundamental breakdown during Freddie Swain’s easy 21-yard touchdown reception. Wilson, who was hit hard on three of his touchdown passes, kept making plays to keep the pressure on Newton and the Patriots throughout the night.
“(Wilson) hurt us tonight in pretty much every way possible, Bill Belichick said. “He is very difficult to handle.”
Newton nearly went punch for punch with Wilson. The Patriots scored on three of their six second-half possessions, but the first missed opportunity was on Newton, who was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar when his bid for Damiere Byrd was late and inside. The Seahawks scored five plays later to make it 28-17.
But Newton quickly kept the Patriots alive, starting the ensuing possession with a 49-yard missile to Julian Edelman, who caught eight balls for a career-high 179 yards. Newton capped that drive with a scoring toss to Johnson.
The Patriots were a bit too conservative on their next possession, especially on a rare failed third down. Trailing 28-23, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called for an option play with Rex Burkhead, who was lined up to Newton’s left – not an ideal spot for a right-handed quarterback to make the pitch. Seattle safety Jamal Adams diagnosed the play and stopped Burkhead for a 4-yard loss.
“Make no mistake about it, the Seattle Seahawks are a great football team. We are a great football team as well,” Newton said. “It was great for us to kind of see where we fared up, and we just fell short.”
The Patriots remain a work in progress, not just with a new quarterback and McDaniels’ remodeled system. They’ve only been on the practice field for five weeks, and Newton and McDaniels are still learning what’s working, what isn’t and why.
They were never destined to run on 66.7 percent of their offensive snaps, like they did against the Dolphins. Nor will they always throw it on 64.3 percent of their plays, like they did against the Seahawks.
“It’s early,” Newton said. “I’m just trying to continually get better. That’s all. For those guys to have faith in me, I just have to deliver.”
When given the chance to open it up, Newton flew up and down the field against a talented Seahawks defense. The Patriots will need more of that against AFC powers like the Chiefs and Ravens.
And now that they’ve seen him do it, the Patriots have a better understanding of how much weight they can put on Newton’s shoulders.