GLENDALE, Ariz. – Two quarters are in the books here at University of Phoenix Stadium, and the game is tied at 14.
Tom Brady is 20-for-27 for 177 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. LeGarrette Blount had 10 carries for 37 yards and Danny Amendola had four catches for 44 yards, while Rob Gronkowski had three catches for 28 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, Russell Wilson is 4-for-7 for 84 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Marshawn Lynch had 12 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown and Chris Matthews had two catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Brady now has 51 career postseason touchdown passes, the most in NFL history.
Here are a few quick notes:
— The high point of the first half for the New England offense came early in the second quarter. That’s when Brady pout together a masterful nine-play, 65-yard drive that took 4:10 and ended with a neat little in-cut to Brandon LaFell that went for an 11-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 with 9:47 left in the first half. The play opened up after Brady executed a perfect play-action fake to Blount that froze the secondary. A really well-executed sequence that led to a score for the Patriots.
— New England added to that with a really sharp drive at the end of the first half. Following a second-quarter score by the Seahawks, Brady guided the Patriots on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that took 1:45 and ended with a 22-yard floater from Brady to Gronkowski to make it 14-7 with 31 seconds left in the second quarter. Twenty-six of the yards on the drive came from Shane Vereen, including a 16-yard pass play to the back that got the Patriots down to the Seattle 27-yard line.
— Wilson didn’t attempt a single pass until the 14:21 mark of the second quarter. Part of that was situational, but at the same time, there was some terrific work in coverage by the New England secondary, which fundamentally shut everything down. The Seahawks were left to rely on their ground game, and while it was one of the best in the league over the course of the regular season, Lynch and the Seahawks struggled to find consistency running the ball in the early going. (It also appeared that Jamie Collins was working as a spy on Wilson, at least in a part-time role.)
— The Seahawks were able to get something going offensively late in the second quarter when Wilson found little used Mathews for a 44-yard gain that jumpstarted the Seattle offense. It was an impressive pass play where Wilson went over the top at the expense of cornerback Kyle Arrington on a really nice pass down the right side of the field. Three plays later, the Seahawks punched in their first touchdown of the evening, a 3-yard touchdown run from Lynch with 2:16 left in the half to make it 7-7. Lynch accounted for 25 of the 70 yards on that drive for the Seahawks.
— The low point of the first half for the New England offense came in the first quarter, when it wasted a great chance at putting some points on the board with a Brady pick. The Patriots got into the red zone with a really impressive drive that feature some nice balance, including good work by Blount and Vereen, each of whom picked up a first down on the drive. (The series went 13 plays and 58 yards in all.) Then came an awful misfire on the part of the quarterback, who was picked off by Jeremy Lane on the goal line on a ball intended for Edelman. (Lane was carted off with what the team called an arm injury ‘ he was listed as questionable to return, but given the way the injury looked, it’s safe to say he’s done for the evening.)
– The low point of the first half came at the end of the second quarter when Wilson hit Matthews again on an 11-yard pass play with two seconds left in the half to tie the game at 14. It was a bold move on the part of the Seahawks to go for the end zone instead of going for a field goal and it paid off as Wilson and Matthew connected at the expense of Logan Ryan.
— The Patriots did not appear to suffer any injuries in the first half.