FOXBORO, Massachusetts — You are Kam Chancellor, and you are lined up in single coverage, wide, against the best tight end to ever play the game. On the last damn play. What do you do?
This is what you do. You get in the face of Rob Gronkowski, you wait for the snap and you shut him down. The game is over, and the Seattle Seahawks beat the New England Patriots, 31-24, at Gillette Stadium.
There are few players in the NFL who could stop Gronkowski one-on-one. Ronnie Lott couldn't stop Gronk without help. Thor might have some trouble. God would have second thoughts. But Chancellor? This is what he does. This is what the Seahawks do.
Seven lead changes, who knows how many facemasks were cracked, who knows how many Super Bowl flashbacks the game caused. But one thing is certain...
...the badass Seahawks are back.
Stop your grinnin', and drop your linen. Time to be afraid of the bad boys from Seattle again.
We've seen this before from the Seahawks, when the team starts slow and then transforms—like a nerd into a werewolf with a supermoon backdrop—and suddenly terrorizes the league. We are starting to see that shift from mortal to Super Bowl contender yet again.
Please understand the magnitude of what the Seahawks did. They traveled across the country, on a short week after playing on Monday night, sore and tired, and they physically dominated the Patriots in New England.
How unusual is what Seattle did? The Patriots led at several stages of the fourth quarter. NBC reported that in the regular season since 2001, the Patriots were 102-1 when leading at home in the last quarter. 102-1. They now are 102-2.
The Patriots simply don't lose at home when they're leading late, but this is Seattle, and it has long done unusual things.
"Mental toughness, physical toughness and never giving up," Chancellor said to NBC's Michele Tafoya after the game. "It's one thing we preach on our team. We want to fight until we can't fight [any] more."
Hit them, they hit you back. Twice as hard. Just when you want to dismiss them, they haunt you. They kill your dreams.
It wasn't a perfect game for the Seahawks or the Patriots. Both head coaches, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, made questionable calls. When the Seahawks went up by seven points late, Carroll rather stupidly decided to go for two points, and the conversion failed. That allowed the Patriots the chance to tie the score with just a touchdown and extra point, leading to the Chancellor play.
Belichick sent Tom Brady up the gut on quarterback keepers in goal-line situations far too much. The play not only risks injury to Brady unnecessarily, but the Seahawks also seemed to know it was coming.
None of this takes away from what Seattle did, and another player who turned in a brilliant effort beside Chancellor was quarterback Russell Wilson.
You read all of the stories. You heard all of the talk this season: Wilson was a shadow of himself. The league had adapted to him. Matt Ryan was better. Andrew Luck was better. Hell, some idiots were saying Jay Cutler was better.
Slowly, Wilson got healthier, and Sunday night saw him at his healthiest. He was still sporting a clunky brace, looking like a broken down Terminator. The feet were still wrapped tight to protect sore ankles. But none of it stopped Wilson's almost magical performance.
He finished 25-of-37 for 348 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He atomized a Belichick defense, which is often hard to do.
The Seahawks held Gronkowski without a touchdown, the first time he's been without one since Week 5. Brady had zero touchdowns and a pick, the first time he's been without a TD and thrown an interception in a game since October 2013.
Brady rarely gets shut down like that, but these are the Seahawks. They can do that.
You are Chancellor, and Gronk is in your face, and you know what the hell to do. You shut him down. And in the process, a message is sent.
The bad boys from Seattle are back.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.