FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — This is why people keep coming back to the NFL, no matter how upset they might get.

The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks put on a marvelous show Sunday night, with the Seahawks holding on for an emotionally draining 31-24 victory at Gillette Stadium.

Too often this year, the NFL has given its fans duds, such as the Los Angeles Rams’ 9-6 win Sunday over the New York Jets. But when you get two of the best teams and organizations in the league going at each other … well, it can be spellbinding – even to the participants.

“That was a tremendous effort,” said Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. “That was about as competitive a game as you’re going to get.”

In the end, it left everyone hoping that they will meet once more, in Houston in February with the Super Bowl championship on the line.

It was a fitting rematch of New England’s 28-24 victory over Seattle in the Super Bowl after the 2014 season. Like that one, this game came down to a final drive and a final pass from the 1-yard line.

Unlike the Super Bowl, the Patriots did not make the winning play.

Down by seven with 4:24 remaining, New England drove to a first-and-goal at the Seattle 2 after an amazing 26-yard catch by Rob Gronkowski on a pass that was perfectly placed by Tom Brady. Gronkowski had Seattle’s DeShawn Shead draped on him, but Brady dropped a back-shoulder pass into Gronkowski’s hands and Gillette was rocking.

But three rushes by the Patriots from the 2 netted nothing, with Brady fumbling the snap on third down before the Patriots recovered. After Seattle was penalized for having 12 men on the field, moving the ball to the 1, the Patriots had one last chance.

Brady threw a lob to Gronkowski in the left corner, but the ball was overthrown. Some Patriots were pleading for a pass interference penalty against Seattle’s Kim Chancellor, but nothing was called.

And with 11 seconds remaining, Seattle had the ball and the win.

Gronkowski wouldn’t complain about the non-call. “I’m not making excuses,” he said. “It didn’t get called. It is what it is and you can’t really change it.”

He said the game lived up to his expectations, especially Seattle’s defense, which rocked Gronkowski in the second quarter. He was hit in the chest by Earl Thomas while attempting to make a catch and had the wind knocked out of him. He sat out four plays.

“Good clean hit,” he said. “No problem with it.”

The Patriots’ new-look defense – minus talented linebacker Jamie Collins, who was traded to Cleveland – looked overmatched by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

Wilson completed 25 of 37 passes for 348 yards and three TDs, all to Doug Baldwin. The Seahawks marched up and down the field. Not counting the last two plays of the game, Seattle scored on seven of its nine drives.

Wilson often found wide-open receivers in the Patriots secondary. Running back C.J. Prosise rushed for 66 yards and caught seven passes for 87 yards. Baldwin caught six passes for 59 yards.

No question, this was the first real test the Patriots have faced this year. Yes, the Houston Texans (6-3) and Miami Dolphins (5-4) each have winning records after Sunday, but no one would consider either of them elite.

The Seahawks are. They have a feared defense, a versatile offense and a coach in Pete Carroll who knows how to prepare his team.

If you’re going to measure yourself, you should do it against the best. And the Patriots came up just short.

“Our execution wasn’t great and they put a lot of pressure on you defensively, they make you earn every yard,” said Brady. “That’s what I respect about that defense. It came down to 1 yard at the end, and we didn’t get it.”

Maybe these teams will meet once more. If they do, you can bet everyone will be watching.