That is the briefest way to explain the Patriots’ attitude toward their failed final play in Sunday’s 35-30 loss at Seattle, which sent Cam Newton one yard backwards instead of one yard forward and across the goal line for a win. The Pats deployed their heaviest personnel grouping around Newton — featuring seven offensive linemen, two tight ends and a fullback — the same that had scored two touchdowns and converted a third-and-1 earlier in the game.
Only this time, with three seconds left and the game in the balance, everything went wrong.
Newton took the shotgun snap, began to follow the pulling block of right guard Shaq Mason and never came close to sniffing the end zone.
STOPPED. ON. THE. GOAL. LINE.
A thrilling finish to an incredible game! #NEvsSEA | #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/7zNMKemOzZ
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) September 21, 2020
“I saw a clip of it,” Newton said after the game. “I could’ve made it right by just bouncing it. I was just trying to be patient. Just thinking too much, man. Or even just diving over the top. There’s so many things that flashed over me. Playing a fast defense like that, as soon as you guess, you’re wrong. I’ll definitely learn from this.”
Newton later said “the play was there all game.” By game’s end, he’d scored three touchdowns and again led the Pats in rushing attempts and total yards. What kept him from a fourth score was defensive lineman L.J. Collier defeating the block of rookie offensive tackle Michael Onwenu and safety Lano Hill submarining fullback Jakob Johnson. Between their penetration, Newton had nowhere to go.
In retrospect, Pats coach Bill Belichick was content with the call.
“We had one play to score, and we tried to go with what we thought was our best play,” said Belichick. “What else is there to think about?”
Prior to Newton’s loss, the Patriots had been perfect in third-and-short and goal-line situations all season.