In one of the most dramatic regular-season NFL games in CenturyLink history, the Seahawks rallied from a 23-10 second-half deficit and stunned Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 24-23 Sunday when rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 46-yard, play-action bootleg bomb to Sidney Rice with 1:18 to play to give Seattle a 24-23 victory.
New England had a chance for a last-minute victory when it got the ball back with 1:14 to play, but Seattle's No. 1-ranked defense finally applied the clamps on Brady. Seattle took over on downs and ran out the clock.
The Seahawks seemed hopelessly out of it when New England took a 23-10 lead with 9:21 to play in the game and Seattle's offense having sputtered since scoring 10 points on its first two possessions.
But the Seahawks scored on a 10-yard pass reception to Braylon Edwards with 7:21 left to slice New England's lead to 23-17. After New England punted, Wilson's deep shot to Rice set off a thunderous, 12th-Man eruption at The Clink.
"He really had his eyes down the field on that," coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson. "It was a fantastic play."
"That's was an excellent play call," said Rice. "I wasn't expecting it. I got a great release inside and gav (the defender) a corner-route move. I just had to catch up to (the pass) and, fortunately, I did."
Overshadowed by Brady much of the game, Wilson had a good first half (completed 9 of 10), a poor third quarter and a great final period. He completed 16 of 27 passes for a career-high 293 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Wilson has now recorded wins over Tony Romo (Dallas), Aaron Rogers (Green Bay) and Cam Newton (Carolina).
The Seahawks needed Wilson's performance because the Patriots largely stifled Seattle's running game, holding Marshawn Lynch to just 41 yards on 15 carries.
The matchup marked the first that featured the NFL's No. 1 offense (Patriots) vs. the league's No. 1 defense (Seahawks) since the 2007 season when New England (offense) defeated Pittsburgh (defense), 34-13.
The Patriots generated 475 yards of total offense against the Seahawks, but scored only 23 points, 10 below their league-leading average. The Seahawks allowed 14.5 points per contest before playing the high-scoring Patriots.
In addition to his game-winning TD pass to Rice and the one to Edwards, Wilson threw a 24-yard TD to Doug Baldwin in the first quarter.
Brady, making his first start in Seattle (and probably his last), threw a career-high 58 passes, completing 36 for 395 yards and two touchdowns. Brady collaborated with eight different receivers, but also threw two costly interceptions.
After holding the Patriots to a three-and-out on their opening series, the Seahawks had a touchdown opportunity on their first drive, but had to settle for a Steven Haushka 34-yard field goal after failing to pick up a first down on third-and-one in the red zone. The field goal marked the sixth consecutive game that Seattle scored first.
The Patriots struck back immediately when Brady threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker, who finished with 10 receptions and 138 yards, on New England's second series for a 7-3 lead. The Patriots went 6-for-6 passing on the drive. The TD by Brady marked the 38th consecutive game, third-all-time, that the former sixth-round draft choice has thrown at least one touchdown pass.
Wilson hit Baldwin with two huge passes on Seattle's next drive, the first one for 50 yards and the next for 24 yards and a touchdown to boost the Seahawks to a 10-7 lead. But Brady engineered a 15-play, 6:57 drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown pass on a fade route over Seattle safety Jeron Johnson to Aaron Hernandez for a 14-10 Patriot lead.
Attempting to pass on third-and-10, Wilson had the ball stripped by Chandler Jones during his throwing motion and New England recovered at the Seattle 47-yard line. The fumble set up a 25-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkwoski and a 17-10 New England advantage.
Jon Ryan couldn't handle a snap with 40 seconds to play in the half and New England took over on downs at Seattle's 38-yard line. The Patriots had a chance to score a touchdown, couldn't, and then had a chance for another field goal. But Brady was called for intentional grounding to end the first half.
Seattle lost nine yards on its first two possessions of the third quarter. The Patriots capitalized, Brady leading an eight-play, 48-yard drive that ended with Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal for a 20-10 New England lead.
A Jason Jones blow to Brady's head resulted in 15-yard penalty, giving New England a first down at Seattle's 15-yard line to start the fourth quarter. But Earl Thomas intercepted Brady in the end zone, keeping the Seahawks in the game.
The Seahawks had a tremendous scoring opportunity two minutes into the fourth quarter after Rice, on a flanker-reverse play, threw a deep ball to Golden Tate that was ruled pass interference, giving Seattle a first down on the New England 40. But the Seahawks gave the ball back when Zach Miller fumbled after a catch. That set up Gostkowski's second 35-yard field goal and a 23-10 advantage.
Wilson and the Seahawks owned the game the rest of the way.
The Seahawks are off for only three days before playing the San Francisco 49ers Thursday (5:20 p.m.) at Candlestick Park in the first meeting of the season between the NFC West rivals.
Sportspress Northwest's Art Thiel will have a column coming shortly.