Seahawks roar back in fourth quarter, stun Patriots 24-23

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Seahawks roar back in fourth quarter, stun Patriots 24-23

It was a classic demonstration of poise under pressure by one quarterback, and crumbling in the spotlight by another. Just what you'd expect when Russell Wilson faces Tom Brady.

But you'd have lost a lot of money betting on which was which Sunday in Seattle.

Wilson -- after a sterling first quarter and a humbling second and third -- was perfect in the fourth. Brady, meanwhile, could only lead the Pats to one touchdown in six trips to the red zone, threw two second-half interceptions, and failed on two attempts to close out the game in the last seven minutes.

And that gave Wilson -- aided by an absolutely pathetic Patriots secondary, which put in possibly its worst effort of the season -- the opportunity to drive the Seahawks to two touchdowns in the final 9 minutes and 22 seconds, giving Seattle the 24-23 upset over New England.

On his last three drives, Wilson passed for 109 of his 293 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice -- who was all alone behind the New England safeties -- with 1:18 to play for the game-winning TD.

"This," former Patriots defensive standout Ty Law after the game, "has to be the worst secondary in football."

Hard to argue.

Wilson was unstoppable -- at least by this defense -- in the first quarter. He had four completions of 22 yards or longer, hit 7 of his first 8 attempts for 131 yards, and had Seattle in front, 10-7, after the first 15 minutes.

Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

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Patriots pregame rituals: Step-by-step with the players on game day

What goes through Dont'a Hightower’s mind in the minutes before he takes the field and lowers himself into a cauldron of collisions, pain and exultation?

Not a thing.

“I rest. I literally rest,” said the Patriots Pro Bowl inside linebacker. “I don’t do anything else. I sit at my locker, I don’t listen to music. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I don’t look at film, I don’t look at notes. I’m just relaxed. Calm before the storm. I’ve done enough preparing, I’ve done enough notes, I’ve done enough of that stuff during the week. If I don’t know it by now, I don’t know it. It’s not gonna help me last minute. It’s only gonna make me play slower.”

By the time an NFL team hits the field – in the Patriots case, runs out of a giant, inflatable helmet while Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” blares – they are primped, polished, taped and glistening.

But what is their day like leading up to that? I asked a few Patriots to take me through their game-day prep from wakeup to anthem to give me insight into what we don’t see.  

You can hear Hightower, Nate Solder, Alan Branch, Devin McCourty and Rob Ninkovich detail the steps they take to get game-ready. French toast is involved. So are naps. And sock preparation.

It all builds to that moment of theater that Ninkovich says is what players truly miss when they leave the game – that feeling of euphoria.

“When we finally get to run out, that’s the most exciting time in the world,” says Solder. “The crowd wasn’t there earlier when we went out there and all of a sudden, the crowd is there. Very exciting, very fun, especially with the guys you work so hard with.”

Says McCourty, “I always think when I run out of the tunnel to look up and say, ‘Thank you’ just to be able to play.”

Listen to them tell their stories here:

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

Belichick's game-day ritual: 'Try to coach and play good'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick was not in any mood to start revealing his behind-the-scenes pre-kickoff routine on game-days. The air of focus he's exhibited during his media-availability periods this week continued on Friday, particularly when he was asked about his Sunday rituals. 

When a reporter wondered if there was anything in particular Belichick does before a game, he initially said simply, "No."

A follow-up about superstitions was tossed Belichick's way next. He swatted that aside as well.

"Try to play and coach good," he explained. "Goes a long way."

There you have it. An easy-step-by-step guide on how to approach a game like a future Hall-of-Famer.

For more on Patriots pregame prep, click here.