FOXBORO, Mass. (AP)—Tom Brady lost a fumble and his helmet—but not the streak.
Brady recovered from that fumble and a costly interception by throwing a long completion in the closing minutes, giving the Patriots their NFL-record 20th straight win, 30-20 over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
“It’s not like we say, ‘All right, guys, let’s go out and make the play’ and (we) make the play,” Brady said. “At the same time, our team has a lot of confidence that when we get in these type of games we’re going to make the plays to win.”
Facing a third-and-7 at his 40 with 2:45 left and the Patriots leading 23-20, Brady threw down the left side to speedy Bethel Johnson, who made a 48-yard reception as he hit the ground. The Seahawks challenged the catch, saying he didn’t have possession, but lost.
“I THINK he made a great catch,” Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. “I really saw that play differently than the referee.”
Three plays later, Corey Dillon put the game away with his second touchdown on a 9-yard run with 1:55 remaining.
“Without that catch we can’t even begin to say what could have happened,” Dillon said.
Without it, the Patriots (5-0) might not have tied the NFL record of 17 straight regular-season wins set in 1933-34 by Chicago. They’ll be at home next week against the undefeated New York Jets.
New England led 20-3 late in the first half, and it was 20-9 early in the fourth quarter when Brady was jarred as the Seahawks recovered his fumble at their 42.
“That was disappointing because I had the first down,” Brady said. “I was fine, not much in that head to rattle around.”
On the Patriots’ next series, though, he threw an interception to Michael Boulware. That set up Shaun Alexander’s 9-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion that pulled the Seahawks within 20-17 with 11:05 left.
The Seahawks (3-2) fell behind 23-17 on Adam Vinatieri’s third field goal, a 30-yarder, with 6:43 to go. They had a first down at the New England 13 with 3:51 left before an intentional grounding penalty against Matt Hasselbeck forced them to settle for Josh Brown’s fourth field goal, a 31-yarder with 3:01 to go.
“I threw it thinking someone was going to peel out” toward the ball, Hasselbeck said. “That was not the big play that hurt us. There were 20 plays ahead of that one.”
For the first time this season, the Patriots beat a team that was not winless. But the Seahawks started sliding late in their overtime loss to St. Louis a week earlier and kept struggling early against New England.
Hasselbeck, intercepted just twice in his first four games, threw two interceptions on Seattle’s first two series. New England scored on its first four possessions and led 20-6 at halftime.
“More than the confusion factor” of New England’s defense, Holmgren said, “I thought what affected us was the physical play of their linebackers and defensive backs.”
The Patriots, who haven’t lost since Sept. 28, 2003, set the overall winning-streak record—which includes playoffs—with a 24-10 win that kept Miami winless at 0-5. New England started the year by beating Indianapolis, then knocked off Arizona and Buffalo.
In their first 15 1/2 quarters this season, the Seahawks allowed only 23 points. Then they gave up 23 points in the last 5:34 of the Rams’ 33-27 win, and 20 points in the first 27 minutes against the Patriots.
Five plays later, Dillon scored on a 1-yard run.
New England kept pressuring Hasselbeck, the son of Don Hasselbeck—who played tight end for the Patriots from 1977 to 1983.
On Seattle’s next series, Ty Law intercepted Hasselbeck’s pass to set up Vinatieri’s 40-yard field goal that made it 10-0.
The lead grew to 17-0 early in the third quarter on Brady’s 6-yard scoring pass to David Patten. Brady, coming off his worst pro start with just 76 yards passing, was 19-for-30 for 231 yards.
Law tied Raymond Clayborn for the Patriots’ record with 36 interceptions. … Seattle’s Koren Robinson had nine catches for 150 yards but was penalized late in the third quarter for spiking the ball after a catch.