Game Balls & Goats: Patriots - Seahawks

Cassel under pressure (AP)

The New England Patriots survived a spirited game by a Seattle Seahawks team playing its best football in weeks. New England won 24-21 on the arm of Matt Cassel's fourth quarter comeback. Here are our game balls and goats for the game.

Game Balls and Goats: Patriots - Seahawks

GAME BALLS:

Matt Cassel - Another fourth quarter comeback for Cassel and the legend grows. He's shown he has not only learned the Patriots system, he's improved every week he's been staring in it. Though Cassel managed just 1 touchdown pass for the game, his 268 yards came when the team desperately needed them, typically on third down. Cassel was 26 of 44 for 268 with three sacks and 1 TD.

Wes Welker - As PI mentioned previously, Welker could be the key to the game, and sure enough that happened. Welker caught 12 passes for 134 yards, 8 of those passes went for a first down, and he caught another for a 2-point conversion.

Dean Pees - Credit must go to the coordinator who hasn't been given much credit for calling a tremendous game with everything on the line. After losing three more starters during the game, Pees had the courage to call for a safety blitz with everything on th eline as Seattle drove for atie or a win. Brandon Meriweather made the play, but it was Pees' call for a blitz that put New Englnad in position to run out the clock.

Honorable Mentions:
Brandon Meriwieather - On second and 11 from the Patriots 43 with a little under two minutes, Meriweather shot the gap to sack Seneca Wallace. Perfect timing on the safety blitz, solid hit to force a fumble and Meriweather was the hero.

Richard Seymour - three tackles, two of which were for a loss and a fumble recovery. Seymour played a much bigger part in the Patriots win than the stats indicate.

Ellis Hobbs - though he gave up the touchdown to Deion Branch, Hobbs' 55 yad kickoff return was the spark the team needed to get in the end zone.

Stephen Gostkowski -- Three for three on the day. He hit a 50 yard kick in the first half to remain perfect from 50 yards or more in his career (3 for 3).

GOATS:

Third Down Defense - this issue will be New England's undoing by better teams. The Steelers used it to roll over the Pats last week, Seattle finished 7 of 12 (58%) for the game, at one point going 4-for-4 in the first half to extend their lead from 7-3 to 14-3.

Tackling - Open field tackling has allowed players to gain yards after the catch. The Patriots did fairly well for periods of the game, but their inability to stop Deion Branch on his 63-yard catch and run exposed poor tackling technique by a number of players.

Red Zone Offense - The Patriots were unable to punch the ball into the end zone from the Seattle 9 yard line when they desperately needed a touchdown trailing 21-13 in the fourth quarter. They were forced to kick field goals on two other drives inside the Seattle 35 yard line.

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