Point/Counterpoint: Patriots vs Seahawks

<p>This week's matchup pits the AFC East New England Patriots against NFC West opponent Seattle Seahawks, Sunday 1:00pm EST at Gillette Stadium.</p> <p>Our staff have taken a look at the individual units of each team and given their take on what each team needs to do unit-by-unit in order to have a chance to emerge victorious in this week's matchup.</p> <p>The Insiders from both teams have given reasons why the Patriots streak may end right here, but will it?</p>

PHOTO: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) is sacked by St. Louis Rams defensive end Loenard Little in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004 at Qwest Field in Seattle. The sack forced a fumble, which was recovered by the Seahawks, but forced a punt. The Rams went on to beat the Seahawks 27-33 in overtime play. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


Game: Seattle Seahawks vs New England Patriots
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro Mass.
When: Sunday October 17, 2004, 1:00pm EST

Unit by Unit Matchup

The Seahawks Perspective:
by Scott Eklund, .Net Staffer
  The Patriots Perspective:
by John MacKenna, Patriots Insider

Scott writes for the Seahawk.Net, and has provided analysis on the matchups addressing the game from the Seahawks point of view.


  John writes for the Patriots Insider, and has provided analysis on the game from the Patriots point of view.

When the Seahawks have the ball:


When the Patriots have the ball:

No one who follows the Seahawks thought this unit was a concern heading into the season. So far this unit has underperformed in most people's eyes and they are due for a breakout game. Being ranked 13th in the league is considered unacceptable for a Mike Holmgren coached offense.

Holmgren likes to use the pass to set up the run, a reverse of what the rest of the league does, and his quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is adept at the short and intermediate passing game. Hasselbeck, who is from Boston, will be extra motivated this week as he will be playing in front of a lot of friends and family.

Hass has three solid wideouts in Darrell Jackson, Koren Robinson and Bobby Engram and with TE Jerramy Stevens finally living up to his hype coming out of college the passing game is ready to take off. Problem is…they haven't yet and no one knows why.

Robinson has been frustrating because of his penchant for dropping easy passes while making spectacular catches look easy. He is a threat to go the distance whenever he has the ball but he allows passes to get into his body and he tends to look downfield before he actually catches it.

Jackson is the big-play and go-to-guy in this offense and he finally caught a touchdown last week in the Seahawks dropped a heartbreaker to the Rams.

RB Shaun Alexander just keeps producing 1,400 yard and 15 touchdown seasons and he is on a pace to put up over 1,500 and 20 this season. He has been hitting the hole harder this season and since this is his contract year, look for that trend to continue.


Coming off games against the two lowest scoring teams in the NFL, the Patriots will have their hands full with the Seahawks. Seattle has a balanced offense similar to New England's, capable of attacking any weakness that shows.

New England's defense has looked shaky at times, even against weak opponents. The Bills sprung running back Travis Henry repeatedly by running at second-year left defensive tackle Ty Warren. The defensive line looked better last week, but Miami was using reserve running backs. To stop Seahawks' star Shaun Alexander (95.5 yards a game), the Pats need Warren, rookie Vince Wilfork and veteran Keith Traylor to clog the lanes.

The linebackers have been solid. Tedy Bruschi continues to make big plays. Ted Johnson is playing well against the run, and his playing time has increased. Rosevelt Colvin looks more solid every week in his return from a broken hip. Strong safety Rodney Harrison also offers excellent run support.

The Pats have also been susceptible in the passing game. Starting cornerback Tyrone Poole might return this week, but Eric Moulds burned him a few times in the Buffalo game. The Patriots have only five interceptions in four games after picking off 29 passes last year. CBs Ty Law and Asante Samuel have none. Second-year FS Eugene Wilson is very active and hits hard.

The Patriots look for the big play on defense, and veterans like Bruschi, Law, Harrison and Willie McGinest have come through time and again during the 19-game win streak.

If Warren and Wilfork stuff the run, the Pats can shut down Alexander. The Seahawks can't win if QB Matt Hasselbeck is forced to pass all day.

When the Patriots have the ball:


When the Seahawks have the ball:

Going in to the season this unit was the "red-headed stepchild" of the team. They had problems stopping the run and they never generated a consistent pass-rush against opposing quarterbacks. Enter Grant Wistrom and his outstanding motor.

Wistrom electrifies his teammates with his all-out hustle and he makes the players around him better. DT's Cedric Woodard, Rashad Moore and Rocky Bernard have generated a better push from the middle and that has also freed the linebackers, led by OLB Anthony Simmons, to fly to ball and drop into coverage.

In the secondary, second-year CB Marcus Trufant, fourth-year CB Ken Lucas and 11-year veteran Bobby Taylor have been shutting down opposing wideouts (save the final five minutes of the Ram game) and have allowed safeties Ken Hamlin and Terrell Bierria to play closer to the line in run support. With New England's injuries to their wide receiver corps this unit matchup looks like a possible win for the Hawks.

Look for the Hawks to do their best to limit RB Corey Dillon's effectiveness and to throw some blitzes at QB Tom Brady in order to get some pressure on him. Because he is so smart and makes great decisions, Brady kills teams when they blitz, so don't look for the Hawks to use this tactic very often.

The Hawks currently rank second in the league at plus-10 in the giveaway/takeaway ratio and they are tied for the league lead in interceptions with 8.


Tom Brady & Co. have prepared well for the Seahawks by facing two of the stingiest defenses in the league the last two weeks. Seattle has surrendered an NFL-low 11.5 points a game, and the Dolphins proved last week that Brady can be stymied. He completed only 7 passes for 76 yards as Miami applied all kinds of pressure.

Brady excels at finding the open man in the Patriots deep receiving corps…when everyone is healthy. But WRs Deion Branch and Troy Brown missed the Miami game with injuries, and Miami's skilled defensive backfield blanketed David Givens and David Patten and forced Brady to throw the ball away. Givens is a rising star with 18 catches for 319 yards.

The Seahawks also field a talented secondary, so the Patriots need some new wrinkles if Branch and Brown don't return. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis might try to spring Corey Dillon or Kevin Faulk on screens. Tight end Daniel Graham might also see more balls coming his way. He has five TD catches this year.

Second-year WR Bethel Johnson has been a non-factor this year. Bill Belichick held him out of last week's game, and if he returns with a clue, he could stretch the field.

Corey Dillon (104.3 yards per game) has given the Pats a reliable running game for the first time since Curtis Martin left.

Expect the Patriots to struggle again unless Brady starts finding open receivers the way he did in the first three games.

Key Matchups:


Key Matchups:

Seattle OT's Chris Terry and Walter Jones vs. New England DE/LB Willie McGinest

Seattle Defensive front-seven vs. New Enlgand Offensive line

New England wide receivers vs. Seattle secondary

Holmgren vs. Belichick

Patriots TE Daniel Graham vs. SS Terrell Bierria


New England WRs Givens and Patten vs. Seattle CBs Marcus Trufant, Ken Lucas and Bobby Taylor

Patriots DTs Wilfork and Warren vs. Seattle C Robbie Tobek, OG Chris Gray and OT Chris Terry

New England OLT Matt Light vs. Seattle DE Grant Wistrom

New England ILBs Bruschi and Johnson vs. Seattle RB Alexander

Possible Turning Point of the Game:


Possible Turning Point of the Game:

With an explosive offense like the Seahawks have, they are never out of the game. However, if the defense cannot stop the run, Brady will have his way all day.


If the Seahawks succeed in shutting down the Patriots' passing game the way the Dolphins did, the Patriots could suffer their first loss in over a year.

Other Factors:


Other Factors:

If Robinson can work some magic and actually catch the ball he will be a threat against the Patriots' zone defense. The Hawks have been good on the road so far this season but one has to wonder if last week's meltdown versus the Rams will leave them with a hangover this week.

Special Teams: K Josh Brown is having some difficulty with his kickoffs but he is ultra accurate from 45-yards in on field goals. P Tom Rouen hurt his hamstring in last week's game and Brown had to come in and booted a 35 yarder late in the game.


Health: The health of the Patriots receiving corps is crucial. If Branch and Brown can't contribute, Brady might struggle to find openings, as he did last week.

Kick returns: The Patriots could use one or two big kick returns to give them superior field position or even a return touchdown. Bethel Johnson needs to get it together.

Poise: The Patriots have made a habit of winning. Coming off a difficult loss, the Seahawks need to match that mental toughness.




As much as I think the Hawks have a good chance at ending the Patriots' winning streak, I just cannot pick against a team that is rolling like the Patriots.

It is imperative that the Seahawks get off to a quick start and take away the home crowd which will be frothing at the mouth for this possible Super Bowl preview.

If Alexander can keep the chains moving and the offense can keep the pressure off of Hasselbeck the Hawks have a chance. I just don't think they come away with the "W".


Until they lose one, the Patriots have to be the pick. They're at home. For 19 straight games, they have found a way to win. Their crowd will pick them up. Nonetheless, they are susceptible to tough defense and a strong running game, and the Seahawks have both.

If the Patriots get a 14-point lead, they will win. Otherwise, it's anyone's game. New England has the poise to overcome an early deficit if Seattle has a good first half.

Expect an ugly game dominated by defense and punctuated by big plays. The Seahawks will win respect but not the game.

Score: Patriots 27, Seahawks 21


Score: Patriots 23, Seahawks 20

For More Info:   For More Info:

Analyst: Scott Eklund

URL: http://www.seahawks.net


Analyst: John MacKenna

URL: http://www.patriotsinsider.com

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