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The New England Patriots were in a bad place.
The defending conference champs came dangerously close to failing to climb into a first-place tie for a second straight week, but on Sunday they staged a dramatic comeback to beat the ordinarily meek Seattle Seahawks 24-21 at Qwest Field.
Sammy Morris' 1-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-goal play gave New England its first lead of the afternoon with 2:50 left in the game. Matt Cassel completed a pass to Wes Welker for the two-point conversion, and the Patriots' defense did the rest.
The Patriots are in a three-way tie for first with an 8-5 record, same as the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
Old friend Deion Branch nearly crippled New England's playoff dreams. He went into the game with 13 catches for 152 yards and zero touchdowns. He had four grabs for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
But it wasn't enough. Cassel completed 26 of 44 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown toss to Benjamin Watson. Welker finished with a dozen catches for 134 yards.
The Patriots will stay out West in preparations for their upcoming game against the Oakland Raiders.