It’s difficult to determine which was more impressive Monday night: The way the Seahawks dispatched the New Orleans Saints, or the way they reacted to the dominating performance.
The Seahawks became the first NFL team to clinch a playoff spot and pushed their best-in-the-league record to 11-1, but there were no popping corks or even look-what-we’ve-done smiles of satisfaction in the locker room after their 34-7 victory on “Monday Night Football” before a CenturyLink Stadium-record gathering of 68,387 fans that re-established the Guinness Book of World Records mark to 137.6 decibels for loudest stadium crowd roar at a sporting event.
Instead, the momentary congratulations for a job done much better than well, gave way almost immediately to a fine focus on the next task at hand – Sunday’s game against the 49ers in San Francisco. The Seahawks have a three-game lead over the 49ers (8-4) in the NFC West with four games to play.
“Now, we’re on to the next game. We’ve got to deal with San Francisco.”
No statements, perhaps, but on this Monday night, against a Saints team that entered the game 9-2, in front of this crowd in this venue, the Seahawks sent a definite message. Any team that comes into a stadium where the Seahawks have won 14-consecutive games had better be ready for anything – and everything.
“Everybody knows it’s hard to come in here and beat us,” All-Pro free safety
It did Monday night, when the Seahawks’ defense made the NFL’s No. 3-ranked offense all but disappear. The Seahawks set the tone early, and it was deafening.
“We had trouble protecting the passer, getting guys open,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We didn’t do enough things in any one area. … We got beat. We got beat good tonight. So it’s tough.”
The Seahawks held the Saints to only seven points - tied for a low in the Payton-era - and 188 total yards - their fewest since the final game of the 2001 season, a span of 188 games. Drew Brees completed 23 of 38 passes, but for just 147 yards – his lowest total since Week 16 of the 2006 season, when he passed for 132 yards against the New York Giants. The Seahawks forced three-and-outs on five of the Saints’ 11 possessions, stopped them on fourth down twice and even scored as defensive tackle
Better yet, the Seahawks saw this coming because of the way they practiced during the week.
The flipside to Brees’ pressured performance was the continued calmness of
It was the second 300-yard passing performance in a regular-season game for Wilson, and the sixth time he has thrown at least three TD passes earning him the second highest passer rating of his career (139.6). Oh, and he’s now 14-0 at CenturyLink Field.
“I get asked all the time and I really feel inadequate in trying to describe to you who he is and what he’s all about,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s an extraordinary individual. It goes way beyond his football ability, he’s an amazing person.”
And in this game, with the Saints’ defense determined to stop running back
“We wanted to be great against the blitz,” Wilson said. “We knew that their defensive coordinator (Rob Ryan) was going to bring some pressure. We like pressure, because there’s a lot of green grass behind it. So if we can capitalize on those plays.”
And the Seahawks did just that, on Wilson’s 60-yard pass to Miller; and his 52-yarder to Baldwin; and his 33-yarder to wide receiver
The Seahawks had almost as many yards on those three long passes (145) as the Saints had for the game (188).
“Unbelievable,” Baldwin said. “To be able to hold Drew Brees to 144 yards passing is unreal. I was anxious to see Drew Brees go up against our defense because I thought it was going to be a terrific matchup.”
Instead, it was a mismatch – one that let every other team in the conference know what awaits them if they have to play the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in the playoffs.
“I’ve been telling them that we haven’t done nothing yet, because we really haven’t accomplished anything – except having a nice record,” Carroll said. “Tonight we did. We accomplished something. We’re a playoff team.
“But that’s not our goal. We want to win this division, and that division (title) gets us a chance to play at home. And that’s what we’re after.”