Mike Holmgren seemed very different in this postgame news conference than in the past ones, when he seemed resigned to the fact that he did not have the horsepower to stay with opponents.
Today, he seemed almost melancholy that they lost this game. More than one guy said they would almost rather lose like they did in Dallas than lose this heartbreaker because having it in your hands and then letting it slip away is more difficult to take emotionally. Holmgren made a very odd remark about the guys playing well but he was not going to be specific about anyone. Usually that remark is made when a team doesn't play well. He didn't elaborate, but he clearly is not very happy that the defense can't get off the field on third downs in crucial situations. He said there will have to be some changes made there next year because that has been the team's downfall all year. That is the first time I have heard him say that is the team's downfall rather than injuries or a lack of pass rush, but he clearly is frustrated.
A few specific things: Steve Vallos said he was supposed to adjust the protection on the all-out blitz on the play on which Seneca Wallace fumbled, and he didn't do that so he took the blame for that. Seneca said he had seen that blitz package by New England two times earlier in the game and called timeout. The Seahawks were out of timeouts at the time because they had called their last with 7:44 left when 12 men were on the field for the defense, so that wasn't an option at the time.
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Seneca said they knew that blitz package was coming and had drawn up a play to counter it. They were supposed to throw a quick slant to Deion Branch, who had beaten Deltha O'Neal, but there was not time to throw the ball because Brandon Meriweather was on Wallace so quickly. Meriweather, by the way, is the player the Patriots drafted with the first-round pick the Seahawks gave them for Branch. Holmgren said simply that the offense should have been able to pick up the blitz but did not elaborate.
Of the 33-yard pass to Randy Moss on the final drive, Deon Grant wanted to say that Josh Wilson was not to blame. He said they brought just about everybody on the blitz and they have to get there if they are going to do that. Grant said Bill Belichick made the perfect play call to counter that blitz and they left Josh hanging out to dry. Josh said that good players occasionally make big plays and Randy Moss is a good player.
Holmgren was none too happy about the blitzing situation. He essentially said that you can't just blitz because then guys get beat deep, like Wilson did on that play. He called it "a lazy way of thinking" to say we need to blitz more. "Again, you live by the sword, you die by the sword," Holmgren said. "Those plays where the receivers are singled up at the end, it actually wound up costing us."
Deion Branch was pretty funny about his long, winding 63-yard play. He said when he caught the ball, he saw Junior Seau. He said he knew Junior had just signed a contract, "so I knew I could beat him." And then he said once he got across the field, he was done. He spoke about his injuries, saying he got them playing football, not moving furniture at home. That doesn't make him injury-prone, that makes him a football player. He said the last drive by the Patriots was typical, and that that is what they did all the time when he was playing for New England. He said when they were up 14-3, he was on the sideline imploring his teammates not to relax because he knew the team on the other side of the field wasn't going to give up.
Mike Holmgren said the reason they played so well despite not having Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck is because they executed the way they were supposed to, something they haven't done all season.
Julius Jones said this is the first time in his career that he has not played. Holmgren said he wanted to give Mo Morris the start, and they had a plan to play Duckett a little more -- which he said earlier in the week. When Mo and Weaver and Duckett all got off to pretty strong starts, Holmgren just decided to stay with the guy who had momentum. "It just worked out that way more than anything," Holmgren said.