FOXBOROUGH — LeGarrette Blount’s night ended with his hands in the air, screaming, yelling, pleading with the referees he thought should have called pass interference on Seattle safety Kam Chancellor.
Chancellor had tangoed with Rob Gronkowski in the end zone while Tom Brady’s pass sailed over both of them. With the game on the line and the ball on the 1, the Patriots put their faith in a fade directed at the tight end. It didn’t work.
Yes, that’s right, you’ve seen this movie before. The unsuccessful goal-line pass call, like the one that sunk the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. The parallels were plenty. New England even had its own back in Beast Mode.
Blount finished with 69 yards on an average gain of 3.3 yards per carry, and accounted for all three New England touchdowns, tying a career high. As he often does, Blount wore down the Seattle run defense and got better as the game went on. He was averaging 2.7 yards per carry at halftime.
He got the Patriots on the board early in the first quarter with a run up the middle from the 1-yard line. His second came from the same spot near halftime, but with extra effort. Blount dragged the majority of the Seahawks defense sideways along the goal line before punching his way through.
He got his third touchdown midway through the third quarter, breaking a 13-yard run to the left side after fullback James Develin cleared his way.
Blount’s three touchdowns in the 31-24 loss brought his total to 12 on the season, two off Curtis Martin’s franchise record. Quietly, Blount’s touchdown celebrations with the Patriots militia men have become as commonplace as Gronk’s spikes.
But there was no celebration to be had in the end.
With 43 seconds left at the Seattle 2, Brady ran the ball on first down, not intending to score but trying to burn the clock in case the Seahawks got the ball back. He gained a yard.
“It was just some situational football, we were trying to get it very close, but not in,” Brady said.
He then handed off to Blount, who got stuffed. On third down, Brady tried the sneak again and fumbled when he and center David Andrews got mixed up on the play. After a Seattle penalty for too many men came the fourth-down pass to Gronkowski, leaving Blount with nothing to do but protest to the men in stripes.
Brady held that the goal-line stand was not the game’s only determinant.
“It looks like it came down to one play but there probably were a lot of plays in this game that we could have done a better job of and they’re a good team, you know, we knew that going in and we had to play better than the way we played,” Brady said. “We were just too careless with the ball.”
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich, however, said that given the Patriots history with the Seahawks, it was sure to come down to the wire.
“A team like that, again, it’s one play either way and it’s the outcome of the game,” Ninkovich said. “That’s why, when you play a good team, you know, it always comes down to throughout the game, one play here or one play there, if it goes one way it changes the outcome of the game so that’s just the way it is when you play a good football team. You know that they’re going to be there at the end.”
Going to Gronkowski, the Patriots savior on many occasions, wasn’t nearly unfathomable. With Chancellor’s play being borderline, the team was left no choice but to accept it. Bill Belichick will hardly get skewered the way Pete Carroll did after the Super Bowl, nor was the situation as important or as clear cut.
“It didn’t get called. It is what it is,” Gronkowski said of the pass interference no-call.
The Patriots will have to live with the play, and the outcome.