The NFC Divisional playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks was hotly contested even before the first snap as TE Jimmy Graham got into with several Seattle players hours before kickoff. It was lining up to be a chippy, hard fought defensive affair as the Saints looked to come out and punch the big, bad bully in the mouth in his own schoolyard.
WR Percy Harvin, who had played only 21 snaps the entire season due to a lingering groin injury was welcomed back with a jarring shoulder to helmet hit from Saints safety Rafael Bush that caused his head to bounce off the turf. He was tested for a concussion but would return later. Though Bush was flagged for the hit, he received high-fives on the sideline. The message was clear; we will not be pushed around.
But you can only do so much hitting. We all like great tackles, but you have to score the ball. Marshawn Lynch was in full Beast Mode almost from the rip. But the Saints defense would force Seattle to kick field goals on two consecutive offensive drives. The Saints established a significant run attack early on as former Heisman Trophy winning RB Mark Ingram and RB Khiry Robinson ran for several bruising runs for positive yardage in the 1st quarter, but the Seattle run defense would quickly get tired of that.
Ingram would fumble the ball at their own 24 yard line-giving the Seahawks excellent field position. They were just too close not to capitalize. And they would indeed do so as Lynch would barge up the middle from the 15 yard line for the touchdown. Down 13-0, it appeared to be Drew Brees time, right? Wrong! The rainy, windy maelstrom that was the Seattle weather made it difficult for Brees to throw the ball in the first half. His hallmark is accuracy, but several wobbly, dead duck passes belied it. Russell Wilson, on the other hand, had some success rolling out the pocket early.
The Saints were able to run the ball early, but despite their success last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, they are a passing team. But the weather acted in favor of the Seahawks. TE Jimmy Graham wasn’t even targeted once in the first half.
According to conventional football wisdom, there was no way the New Orleans Saints were going to get back in the game running the ball. Back-to-back completions at the start of the second half seemed to show a New Orleans offense that was finally getting into a rhythm. However, the drive would eventually stall, resulting in a Saints punt after Drew Brees was sacked.
The Saints defense would continue playing above their heads the entire game. It was the offense that sputtered on drive after drive. However, Brees would awaken and lead his team on a 9 play, 74 yard drive in the 3rd quarter that would lead to a 1 yard Robinson touchdown. A two-point conversion made it 16-8.
Drew Brees appeared to getting hot as the weather in Seattle began to clear up early in the 4th quarter. But the Seattle defense would once again answer the bell and force New Orleans into yet another punt.
Later, a 52 yard pass play on a tipped ball to Robert Meachem put the Saints in scoring position on the Seattle 30 yard line. A missed Saints field goal with 3:51 left seemed to spell doom for New Orleans. The way Marshawn Lynch was running the ball all day it was curtains on any notion of a comeback. But an incomplete pass by Wilson on first down stopped the clock.
A Beast Mode run for seven yards and a catch 24 yard catch by Doug Baldwin on 3rd and 3 would pretty much seal the deal. New Orleans would contest the call to no avail, exhausting their time outs for the remainder of the game. Seattle’s jumbo package on 1st and 10 screamed run, and Marshawn Lynch you break to the outside and scamper for 31 yards to pay dirt.
Drew Brees and the Saints would respond by driving down the field and scoring a touchdown a fourth down situation that was rife with penalties against the Saints. But Marquis Colston, who had been the workhorse for the Saints pass attack all night long, caught a touchdown pass with 31 seconds left to play.
Colston would then recover an onside kick that ricocheted off the chest of Seattle receiver Golden Tate. Graham would finally catch a pass with 19 seconds left to play. The stage was set for a remarkable comeback. However, the hero would then become the goat as Marquis Colston would throw an illegal forward pass to end the game.
The final score was 23-15 and while Brees would get hot late and finish with 309 yards and a TD. Russell Wilson was less than advertised. He would finish the game with a rather pedestrian 103 yards. It was all Beast Mode, all day. His 140 yards, 2TDs were a Seahawks franchise record.
Seattle will now await the winner of the San Francisco 49ers versus Carolina Panthers game that will take place on Sunday. Marquis Colston would finish with 144 yards and a TD and Darren Sproles did absolutely nothing.