Monday cyber surfing: Offense feeds off defense in 24-23 victory over New England

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks the day after their come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks turned into a complete team when it mattered most yesterday, “Down 23-10 with less than eight minutes remaining, the Seahawks needed the most thorough miracle a team could request. A questionable call on a Hail Mary wouldn’t do against the Patriots. The Seahawks needed a double dose of good fortune. They needed to manufacture two touchdowns against a Patriots defense that had held them to 35 yards during a 21-minute stretch in the second half. And they needed their No. 1 defense, which yielded 475 yards to the league’s No. 1 offense, to make a cameo. It all happened, in the most stunning, galvanizing and unifying manner possible. These are the kinds of improbable victories that launch teams. And for the Seahawks, defensively dominant but offensively opaque, an all-in rally against an elite team could help redefine the possibilities this season. ‘Growth. That’s what this was about — growth,’ fullback Michael Robinson said. ‘A comeback like this wouldn’t have happened around here the last two years.’ “

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times highlights the play of the Seahawks’ second-half defense, “The defense found a way to make Brady look average. It kept alive this game that appeared to be fading to black. ‘Even when Tom Brady was eating us up and they were getting big yards here and there, we wouldn’t break,’ defensive end Red Bryant said. ‘We kept coming. That manifests through the team. You witnessed it today. It was 23-10. We were down. But we kept fighting tooth and nail. I’m happy today because of the way we responded.’ The defense held the NFL’s statistically best offense to six second-half points. It didn’t cave to New England’s constant pressure, didn’t stress when the Patriots tried to speed the tempo. The defense endured. ‘We went and got this game. They didn’t lose it,’ Bryant said. ‘This defense is resilient. We’re hardheaded. We’re gonna keep coming. And the offense feeds off us. They know that no matter what the situation is, instead of complaining and moaning at each other, we buckle down. We understand, it ain’t how you start, it’s how you finish. And today we finished.’ “

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps the wild finish to Sunday’s 24-23 Seahawks victory at CenturyLink Field, “Over the final eight minutes of this game, it was Seattle that demonstrated a fourth-quarter resolve that Carroll has been preaching since he arrived and has now clearly taken root. ‘That’s what coach Carroll preaches: finish,’ Sherman said. “Finish, finish, finish. You don’t win the game in the first quarter. You don’t win the game in the second quarter. You dang sure don’t win it in the third quarter. It’s the fourth that matters.’ And this fourth quarter turned out to be particularly memorable, from Earl Thomas intercepting a pass in the end zone to squelch a Patriots scoring chance early in the period to Wilson throwing a 10-yard fade to Braylon Edwards, who had gone 651 days since his last touchdown catch. And it was only fitting that the game-winning touchdown came on the second-longest pass Wilson completed, this longshot of a comeback completed with one long pass.”

O’Neil looks at Wilson’s downfield throws from yesterday, “Russell Wilson’s final pass is the one that will be remembered, a 46-yard completion to Sidney Rice for the game-winning touchdown. But it was his first-quarter pass to Doug Baldwin that might have been the most significant sign of growth for Wilson in this game. It went for 50 yards and was the Seahawks’ longest play from scrimmage this season at that point. Coach Pete Carroll said that was the result of a concerted effort all week to get the receivers to keep working downfield even if Wilson flees the pocket. ‘There are huge plays there for us if we just look and fight hard to get open,’ Carroll said. That pass to Baldwin was proof of what can happen. ‘I took a couple more chances than what I would normally do sometimes,’ Wilson said. ‘And it came up big.’ “

O’Neil also names Wilson his player of the game in his two-minute drill, “Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw for a career-high 293 yards, but more importantly, two touchdowns in the final eight minutes as Seattle came back from a 13-point deficit.”

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune points to Wilson’s growing NFL resume through six weeks, “Despite a sluggish third quarter on Sunday, Wilson finished with career highs in passing yards (293) and touchdown passes (3) while completing 16 of his 27 attempts for a passer rating of 133.7. He bought second chances with his evasiveness, showed a gift for delivering deep balls on target, and an indisputable flair for the dramatic. But he was the only Seahawks player who came out of the game without a gushing assessment of his performance. ‘Obviously, I’m a rookie,’ he said. ‘I’m just trying to help the other 10 guys play at a high level. I just call the play and trust what I see, and just facilitate the ball to the right guy at the right time, and that’s got to be the goal, and for us to get the ball in the end zone.’ “

Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at the battle between the Seahawks’ defense and the Patriots’ no-huddle, hurry-up offense, “The hurry-up offense led by Brady gave Seattle issues early, and wide receiver Wes Welker, who caught 10 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, gave the Seahawks headaches all game. But the Seahawks thought it was just a matter of time till they figured out how to slow the fastbreak offense down. ‘We figured out early in the game what their calls were, what they were doing, what the adjustments were and then we started playing better,’ Sherman said. ‘That’s why they only scored six points in the second half.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps Sunday’s one point Seahawks victory, “Seattle defensive lineman Red Bryant said Carroll was careful to show the proper respect for his former team and its accomplishments over the years, but also let his players know this was a game they could win. ‘We respected the fact that we knew it was going to be this kind of game,’ Bryant said. ‘And he showed a lot of confidence in what we do. I’ve been on teams with coaches where you’re playing a Tom Brady-like player, and they overemphasize how great the player is. And he did a great job of letting us know that he knew Tom Brady was that guy, but at the same time, relaying confidence in us that we could get the job done.’ “

Williams also details Wilson’s performance from Week 6, “For a second straight week, Wilson’s final numbers were impressive. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked twice, and scrambled around for another 17 yards. He also fumbled on a sack by New England rookie Chandler Jones. Wilson finished with a 133.7 passer rating. He had six completions of 20 yards or more. ‘I think I’m just more experienced,’ Wilson said about his improved play. ‘Being in those situations, you really have to trust what you see, and you really have to be quick with your decisions, but also believe in your decisions and just be decisive with the football.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his account of Sunday’s 24-23 result, “And as significant as Sunday’s win was because it improved the Seahawks record to 4-2, putting them in a three-way first-place tie in the NFC West, it is also important for what it can mean for the perception of the team both in and out of the locker room. People were quick to write off Seattle’s win over Green Bay because of the way that game ended. But this victory, one that featured not just a good Seattle defense, but a stunning fourth-quarter outburst by an offense that has struggled so often this season; this game showed that the Seahawks belong on the big stage. ‘It’s a big statement for a young team,’ Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘And it is more so because of that (New England) staff, that coach, that quarterback, their team, the championship ways that they know and understand and everything about that, so we take great pride in it.’ “

Boyle also says Wilson showed he can be a playmaker after yesterday’s comeback victory, “Following a loss in St. Louis, the talk of the town was the Seahawks’ quarterback controversy. Two weeks later, Wilson made his coaches look smart, not stubborn, for sticking with him through the early ups and downs. ‘I was in awe,’ said Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman. ‘He was a magician, he was magnificent, he did a heck of a job, and that’s what they got him for. That’s the reason he’s starting. A lot of people have been doubting him, but I think he shut up all the doubters today. He beat Tom Brady, he beat Aaron Rodgers, and not a lot of rookies can do that.’ “

Todd Fredrickson of the Everett Herald sums up the Patriots’ last-ditch-effort after Rice’s game-winning touchdown catch that put the Seahawks up 24-23, “Then it was up to the defense to protect that lead with the ball at the Patriots’ 20 and 1:14 left, which is plenty of time for Brady, who has engineered 37 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime in his 13 NFL seasons. After an incomplete pass, the Seahawks got their first sack when Jason Jones dumped Brady. Another incomplete pass set up fourth-and-17, and the Patriots got just 15 yards on Brady’s pass over the middle to wide receiver Wes Welker. Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner tackled Welker at the New England 28 to set off a wild celebration. ‘I’m so proud of my guys. I’m proud of the defense,’ Seattle defensive end Red Bryant said. ‘That was a great game. 23-10. A lesser team probably would have gone in the tank. Nobody batted an eye. Nobody felt that we were out of the game. That’s what it’s all about. If you want to be remembered, then you finish games.’ “

Lastly from the Herald, Boyle and Fredrickson look at Seattle’s improvement in the red zone, “In their first five games, the Seahawks scored touchdowns on only 29 percent of their trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. They were much better on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal on three trips to the red zone, one of the keys to a 24-23 victory over the Patriots. ‘Our focus this whole entire week was the red zone. We did a good job in the red zone this week and today,’ Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ‘That’s the way we have to be all the time, and we’re doing a good job of growing.’ “

Mike Salk of mynorthwest.com says the Seahawks made a statement in Sunday’s win over the Patriots, “So, has anyone said the Patriots played down to the Seahawks’ level yet? If so, tune them out. The Seahawks’ vaunted defense didn’t dominate the Patriots. That’s OK; no one does. They were out-manned at times – everyone is – but found ways to limit the damage. The Patriots scored just three points on two turnovers, this despite a pass rush that did not get home often enough.”

Brady Henderson of mynorthwest.com recaps the big-play ability Seahawks receivers showcased in yesterday’s win, “Seattle’s receivers had been assigned some of the blame for the offense’s inability to move the ball through the air earlier in the season. That group, some suggested, isn’t explosive enough to make big plays down the field and not clutch enough to make tough catches in key moments. Tate was aware of the criticisms. ‘We haven’t been reading it but we’ve definitely been hearing about ‘Seattle doesn’t have receivers, they can’t throw the ball, they can’t do this,’ ‘ he said. “We all know, we all believe in us and the 12th Man believes in us. We know we can make plays and today was a perfect example of just guys across the board just making play after play after play.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press has his game story from yesterday, “The matchup between the Patriots’ No. 1 ranked offense and Seattle’s No. 1 defense instead turned in to a starring performance for Wilson. And a shocking rally that gave Pete Carroll a win in the first matchup against the franchise he coached for three seasons in the late 1990s. Carroll was bouncing around the sideline in celebration after one of his biggest pro victories. ‘I hadn’t even thought about that. That was a long time ago and there have been a lot of games,’ Carroll said. ‘I really love Robert Kraft, he’s a great man and he’s been great throughout the years about our separation of sorts. I respect the heck out of him. But I’m a competitor and, heck yeah, I want to win against those guys.’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM recounts the Seahawks’ 24-23 victory over the Patriots, “Rice totaled 81 yards on three receptions, as Marshawn Lynch was held to 41 yards on 15 carries as Seattle pulled into a three-way tie atop the NFC West standings after wins by San Francisco and the Cardinals. ‘We got some offensive plays thanks to the offensive line,’ Wilson admitted. ‘Practice was sharp this week, and the coaches really did a good job getting us focused. Guys worked hard this week. Every team tries to slow down Lynch, but at the same time, it opens opportunities for us. Playing here in front of this crowd is fascinating.’ “

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com says Wilson outplayed New England quarterback Tom Brady, “Instead of Brady, the man of many memorable comebacks, it was Wilson who launched his team after slogging through a turgid second half to deliver the performance of his abbreviated football career, staggering the Super Bowl-bejeweled Pats. ‘The lift — you could see it in our players — as we were finishing the game was really something to make you proud as a coach,’ said Carroll, whose four-speed oral transmission found a fifth gear. ‘It really took every play, every kick, every rush — everything we did had to happen like it that, for us to have a chance. I just loved the way we rallied on both sides of the ball and special teams, knowing that we had a chance to win. It’s a big statement for this young team — more so because (of New England and) the championships ways they know. Russell played a fantastic game today.'”

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com has a look at Carroll’s winning formula, “In Carroll’s third year in Seattle, he finally got the ultimate litmus test — he got to set his new team against the team Belichick built after his departure. He had build a dominant defense and an offense designed to avoid mistakes. Knowing full well that he’d need more big plays to counter New England’s hyperactive offense, Carroll set rookie quarterback Russell Wilson loose, and bagged an important victory for his 4-2 team.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his wrap-up after yesterday’s 24-23 Seahawks win, “What it means: The Seahawks improved to 4-2 with a comeback victory that should at least temporarily silence calls for the team to replace rookie quarterback Russell Wilson with backup Matt Flynn. Wilson connected on big plays early, then found Sidney Rice for the winning 46-yard touchdown pass with 1:18 remaining. This was exactly what Wilson and the Seahawks needed heading into a road game against the San Francisco 49ers.”

John Clayton of ESPN.com tells us what we learned from Week 6 in the NFL, “1. It’s clicking for Carroll: Pete Carroll’s unconventional approach to personnel is winning in Seattle. Critics questioned Carroll’s decision to start rookie third-round choice Russell Wilson at quarterback instead of veteran Matt Flynn, who received a three-year, $19.5 million contract as a free agent. Well, Carroll is smiling with a 4-2 record and home upsets over the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. Wilson, who is only 5-foot-10 5/8, overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit by throwing two touchdown passes in the final 7:21 and beat the Patriots 24-23. Wilson has the best record among the rookie quarterbacks. ‘We’re a young football team that knows how to hang,’ Carroll said.”

Finally, Peter King of SI.com has his Monday Morning Quarterback, and leads with the Seahawks’ comeback victory over the Patriots and play of Wilson, “The maturation of Russell Wilson. After his sixth NFL game Sunday, a 24-23 win over the Patriots at home, Wilson told Tom Brady on the field, “I have so much respect for you as a player and a person. It’s great to play against you.” He walked through the Seattle locker room, shaking hands with every player. He stopped to share a few moments with owner Paul Allen. In his post-game press conference, during which he deflected any praise about himself toward the team, he finished the way he finishes interviews broadcast live to Seattle fans: “Go Hawks!” Good teammate. Good politician. Good guy. And a very quick study as a quarterback.”