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Seahawks dispatch Saints in impressive fashion
The first to 11, and the first team into the postseason.
That was the end result after the Seahawks slapped a 34-7 loss on the New Orleans Saints on “Monday Night Football” before a CenturyLink Field-record crowd of 68,387.
At 11-1, the Seahawks clinched a playoff spot – on Dec. 2 and with four regular-season games remaining. The Saints, meanwhile, slipped to 9-3.
In addition to clinching a playoff spot for the Seahawks – their third in four seasons under coach Pete Carroll – Monday night’s victory also:
Gave the Seahawks a two-game lead over the Saints (9-3) for the NFC’s top seed in the postseason;
Ran the winning streaks of the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, their second-year QB, at CenturyLink Field to 14 in a row;
And stretched their winning streak this season to seven in a row.
Their 11th victory also tied the Seahawks’ total from last season, when they posted the third-best record in franchise history (11-5). The only teams to win more games were the 2005 team (13-3) that advanced to the Super Bowl and the 1984 team (12-4).
The Seahawks’ domination of this much-hyped game began in the first half, as Russell Wilson was 14-of-19 for 226 yards and two touchdowns and the defense also scored and forced a trio of three-and-outs.
The defense held the Saints to a three-and-out on the game’s opening position, and the Seahawks then drove 61 yards in 11 plays to a 26-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka with 7:47 left. Wilson hit his first two passes for 33 yards.
On the Saints’ next third down, Cliff Avril got to Drew Brees for a fumble-forcing sack and Michael Bennett caught the ball and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to make it 10-0 with 6:27 left.
With his TD pass to Miller, Wilson became the fourth QB in NFL history to have 20 TD passes in each of his first two seasons. He also was 6 of 8 for 111 yards in the first quarter.
The Saints got on the board on Brees’ 2-yard TD pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, whose 12th scoring catch of the season capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive that began late in the first quarter and consumed more than eight minutes. Brees was 8-of-8 for 52 yards.
Russell Wilson then directed a 10-play, 82-yard drive to a 20-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that made it 20-7 with 3:41 left in the half. Wilson kept the drive alive with a 52-yard pass to Doug Baldwin on third-and-3 and a 17-yarder to Golden Tate on third-and-12. Wilson was 3-of-4 for 82 yards.
But the Seahawks weren’t done. Another three-and-out by the defense was followed by a 12-play, 88-yard drive to Wilson’s 4-yard TD pass to Baldwin to make it 27-7 with 13 seconds left in the half.
Brees and Wilson were a combined 11-of-12 for 134 yards on the first two scoring drives that dominated the quarter.
The Seahawks stopped the Saints on fourth downs twice to open the quarter, but then went three-and-out after the first and had a 13-play drive to burn 7½ minutes. Robert Turbin, the second-year back, took over for Marshawn Lynch on that 12-play possession and carried eight times for 21 yards. Not overly impressive, but effective when the idea was burn as much time as possible. Read