By Todd Fredrickson and John Boyle Herald Writers
SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks entered Sunday’s game against New England dead last in the NFL in touchdown percentage in the red zone, and they made that a priority item during practice this week.
In their first five games, the Seahawks scored touchdowns on only 29 percent of their trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
They were much better on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal on three trips to the red zone, one of the keys to a 24-23 victory over the Patriots.
“Our focus this whole entire week was the red zone. We did a good job in the red zone this week and today,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “That’s the way we have to be all the time, and we’re doing a good job of growing.”
Kennedy’s number retired
The Seahawks at halftime retired the No. 96 jersey worn by former defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy.
Kennedy is the third player to have his number retired by the Seahawks, joining wide receiver Steve Largent (80) and tackle Walter Jones (71) as players so honored. The Seahawks have also retired No. 12 in honor of their fans.
Kennedy was Seattle’s first-round draft choice in 1990 and the third choice overall, out of the University of Miami. He spent 11 seasons in the NFL, all with Seattle, and made the Pro Bowl eight times.
His biggest year on the stat sheet was 1992, when he had 14 sacks and 93 tackles and forced four fumbles, numbers that are unheard of for a defensive tackle. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year despite playing for a team that went 2-14.
Kennedy, an Arkansas native who now lives near Orlando, Fla., was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.
Dodging a bullet
The Seahawks averted disaster at the end of the first half when the Patriots failed to score after a botched punt attempt.
Seattle punter Jon Ryan dropped a clean snap from long snapper Clint Gresham and was tackled before he could get a punt off.
The miscue put the Patriots, already leading 17-10, at the Seattle 24-yard line with 40 seconds remaining before halftime. With two timeouts left, at least a field goal seemed a sure thing.
But on third-and-goal from the three and six seconds left, New England quarterback Tom Brady was called for intentional grounding after throwing the ball almost into the stands behind the end zone.
Inside the last two minutes of a half, the penalty for intentional grounding includes a 10-second runoff, which ended the half and prevented the Patriots from attempting a field goal.
Brady didn’t question the decision to go for a touchdown.
“When the play comes in from the sidelines they are not thinking that we are going to have intentional grounding,” he said. “They trust me to be smart with the ball and to get three at the worst, and I just made a bad play.”
Lots of excitement
Sunday was certainly an eventful day for Ryan. Besides the play on which he dropped the snap (see above), he had a terrific day when he actually kicked the ball. Ryan averaged 60 yards on his four punts, making him the first NFL punter since 1946 and third all time to average 60 or more yards per punt with a minimum of four punts in the game.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that safety Kam Chancellor “got banged on the elbow” and that right guard Paul McQuistan had a “knee thing” but was able to finish the game. Reserve cornerback Byron Maxwell, a key special teams player, aggravated a hamstring injury that has been an issue this year. Carroll said he did not yet know the severity of the injuries.
Welcome back Braylon
Seattle wide receiver Braylon Edwards has been mostly an afterthought since starting the season opener, but he had a big impact in Sunday’s victory, catching two passes for 21 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch on fourth down in the fourth quarter to cut New England’s lead to six points.
The touchdown was Edwards’ first since the 2010 season, when he was with the New York Jets.