Saints vs. Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch Wraps Up Seattle Shocker
The defending Super Bowl champions grabbed two early 10-point leads, then watched Matt Hasselbeck throw four touchdown passes as the Seattle Seahawks, 7-9 and winners of just three of their last 10 games coming into the playoffs, kept putting the pressure on the 11-win New Orleans Saints.
The game was in doubt until Marshawn Lynch came up with his biggest play as a Seahawk, breaking for a 67-yard touchdown run with 3:22 to play to push Seattle into a nearly unassailable 41-30 lead. Lynch's run will be shown on endless highlight films as he broke free of Saints' defenders time and again.
The Saints got a late touchdown, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Seahawks came away with a 41-36 win.
The Saints, who still have never won a road playoff game, nonetheless came in as a 10½ -point favorite, the biggest road favorite in the history of the playoffs. And the Seahawks, a 34-19 loser in New Orleans in November, seemed singularly unimpressed.
Some early thoughts about this one:
• No defending Super Bowl championship team had ever lost a playoff game the next year after being ahead by 10 points. The Saints were up 10-0 and 17-7 before falling behind Seattle by two touchdowns in the third quarter.
• Perhaps the key drive of the game started with 5:36 to play with the Saints on their own 6 after a holding penalty on a punt return. New Orleans got one quick first down, then stalled.
• On the second play after the ensuing punt. Lynch shattered the back and the spirit of the Saints with a stellar 67-yard run that broke down all suggestions that the Seahawks weren't good enough to compete in the playoffs. That TD pushed the scored to 41-30 and put New Orleans to the brink of a first-round exit.
The Saints didn't give in, however, Drew Brees drove the Saints downfield and capped the march with a six-yard TD pass to Devery Henderson, to get to within five points. But DeShawn Wynn was stacked up on an attempted two-point conversion leaving New Orleans in a 41-36 hole.
On the ensuing onside kickoff was caught by TE Jon Carlson, who already had two TD catches. He grabbed the ball out of the air and fell on the ground, meaning Seattle had a win as long as it didn't make any mistakes.
• Perhaps the biggest play of the game came with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter when the Saints, down 14, opted to go for it on fourth-and-inches. RB Julius Jones, the former Seahawk, was stopped by MLB Lofa Tatupu, giving Seattle the ball at the New Orleans 36.
• Seattle had a chance to go up 17 points with Olindo Mare on to try a 53-yard field goal. He never got the chance, thanks to a delay of game penalty, taking the Seahawks out of field goal range.
• New Orleans came back to within a touchdown at 34-27 on a five-yard run by Jones. The play was set up by an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Chris Clemons, the left DE, who got caught retaliating at the end of a tackle on the Seattle sidelines.
• The Saints had a chance to tie the game on the next drive, but on a third-and-3 play from the 4, a huge tackle by DE Raheem Brock with an assist from LB Aaron Curry kept the Saints out of end zone. New Orleans settled for a Garrett Hartley field goal, leaving Seattle ahead 34-30 with 9:07 to play.
• The first Seattle drive of the third quarter saw Hasselbeck back at quarterback, even though he'd been shaken up late in the first half. He was sharp on the drive, and his 38-yard TD pass to Mike Williams was a thing of beauty. Williams got behind FS Darren Sharper and LCB Jabari Greer for the touchdown in the right front corner of the end zone.
• New Orleans' first drive of the second half was something of a disaster for the Saints. Brees was nearly sacked, got the ball away on second down but was called for intentional grounding as the drive went up in smoke.
• The Seahawks had converted five of last six third downs before Hasselbeck's pass is dropped by Ben Obomanu. Seattle settles for a field goal from Olindo Mare and a 14-point lead at 34-20.
• The Saints came into the game with the most points scored on the first drive of the game this year, 55, and they got three thanks in part to the Seahawks' Mare kicking the ball out o bounds and giving New Orleans great field possession.
• Turnovers showed themselves early as Seattle's Obomanu let a routine pass from Hasselbeck slip through his fingers on the third play from scrimmage by Seattle. Greer picked the ball off and set New Orleans in position at the Seattle 35.
• Seattle had a chance got hold the Saints to a second straight field goal, but when Brees threw incomplete on third-and-3 from the 5, Walter Thurmond was called for pass interference. Brees threw to FB Heath Evans for the TD on the next score.
• The Seahawks, down 10-0 early in danger of being blown at out home, took the lead of Hasselbeck, who went 4-for-4 on the subsequent drive and hit on a TD pass to TE Jon Carlson to get within a field goal at 10-7 with 3:38 to play.
• On the drive, Obomanu was shaken up and had to come out of the game. WR Brandon Stokley, whose availability this week was in question because of an injury, took over and had a reception on the drive.
• Jones, released by the Seahawks earlier in the year, scored on a 5-yard run to cap 11-play drive early in the second quarter and became the the first player in NFL history to score a TD against the team that released him that same season. On that drive, Brees was 4-of-5 for 53 yards.