The Seattle Seahawks seemed to dominate the New Orleans Saints physically for most of the game, but a very poor performance from Russell Wilson almost cost the better team the game. in what should prove to be huge, blinding warning signs for the NFC championship game.
The Seahawks weren’t letting the Saints get anything done in the first half, finishing with a 16-0 lead. The Saints were shut out for three quarters, and Brees finished the first half with 34 passing yards. Luckily for the Saints, there defense came to play, and while completely shutting down Marshawn Lynch proved to be too much of a task, they gave their quarterback plenty of chances to win the game.
Wilson handled the first half well, going 6-of-8 on passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage, coping well with the awful weather conditions. However, he finished throwing for only 103 yards on 9-of-18 completions, struggling against the four-man pass rush in the second half, as the Saints adjusted well to the read-options that confused them in the first half.
But despite all of the compliments to the Saints’ defense, it seemed like their big plays and stops came a bit too late. There was some nice hurry up offense with Brees suddenly connecting with Jimmy Graham (only once the whole game) and especially with Marqeus Colston (11 catches, 144 yards, 1 touchdown), but it came without any timeouts and in a situation the Saints didn’t have much of a chance in. They ended up falling shot of the mark on the final drive, losing 23-15.
You just don’t know how many more opportunities you’re going to have. That’s what makes it so tough standing up here and talking about it.
For the Seahawks, it was their usual brand of football that won them the game: Cornerbacks that were extremely physical (with help from the officials, turning some blind eyes) and getting turnovers, causing one fumble (Mark Ingram) that the offense scored a touchdown of, and Michael Bennett having a huge game in the defensive line. On offense, it was Marshawn Lynch going into something others referred to as Beast Mode 2.0.
Lynch had a rough time at the end of the season – expected from a guy who has carried the ball more than anyone over the last two years. However, his 100-yard-game drought was over, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns, including the only score for the Seahawks in the second half deep in the fourth quarter, on 28 carries. It wasn’t pretty football, but with the weather being the way it is, the game was always going to be about making fewer mistakes and not letting the conditions get to you.
The Seahawks will host their next game, regardless of the opposition. However, the struggles Russell Wilson showed in the second half when he had the chance to put the game to bed does come as a cause for concern in the next few days, knowing that the potential opponents have better defenses than the Saints that can make more of such a ‘gift’, while not having an offense that completely shuts down if the passing game is taken away from it.