Seahawks hold off Saints, advance to NFC title game

AP

The Seahawks will host the NFC title game next Sunday.

Led by an exceptionally strong defensive performance for three quarters, the Seahawks defeated the Saints 23-15 in Saturday’s divisional-playoff game in Seattle.

The Seahawks will play the winner of Sunday’s 49ers-Panthers playoff game for the right to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2.

In victory, the Seahawks neutralized one of the game’s top pass-catching threats, holding Saints tight end Jimmy Graham to just one reception. They also held the Saints without a single point until 13:14 left in regulation.

Seahawks tailback Marshawn Lynch racked up 140 yards on 28 carries and scored both of Seattle’s touchdowns, including a 31-yard rumble off left end that gave Seattle a 23-8 lead with 2:48 left in regulation.

The Saints would make a bit of a rally, with quarterback Drew Brees connecting with Marques Colston on a nine-yard reception with 32 seconds left. Then, the Seahawks could not recover the ensuing onside kick, giving the Saints one last shot at a game-tying drive. But when Colston was flagged for a forward lateral on the game’s last play, the Saints’ comeback hopes were officially dashed.

Mistakes hurt the Saints, who never led in their second loss at Seattle on the season. Kicker Shayne Graham missed two field goals, and punter Thomas Morstead’s 16-yard first-quarter punt helped lead to the first of three field goals by Seattle’s Steven Hauschka.

The Saints also paid dearly for their lone turnover of the game. Two plays after Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett forced and recovered a fumble by tailback Mark Ingram, Lynch powered in from 15 yards out, giving Seattle an 13-0 lead early in the second quarter. Another Hauschka field goal gave Seattle a 16-0 halftime edge.

Near the end of the third quarter, the Saints’ offense started to find its way, and one-yard TD run by Khiry Robinson, coupled with an Ingram two-point run, cut Seattle’s lead to 16-8 with a little more than 13 minutes left in regulation.

Now, the Saints were back in the game. And when Brees connected with Robert Meachem on a 52-yard pass that deflected off safety Earl Thomas’ hands, the Saints were suddenly at the Seahawks’ 25-yard line with less than five minutes left.

But then, New Orleans would make another miscue, drawing a delay of game penalty. And then, the Seahawks’ defense dug in, allowing the Saints to gain no yards on three subsequent plays. Facing a 4th-and-15 at the Seattle 30, the Saints sent out Graham to attempt a 48-yard field goal, and he hooked it wide left.

The Seahawks now had the ball with a chance to put away the Saints. And in a two-play span, they just about did it. First, quarterback Russell Wilson (9-of-18 passing, 103 yards) connected with Doug Baldwin on a 24-yard pass play on 3rd-and-3 with a little less than three minutes left. Then, Lynch broke free off the left side for his 31-yard score.

The Seahawks’ passing game got a lift early from receiver Percy Harvin, who would depart late in the second quarter with a concussion. Harvin caught three passes for 21 yards and rushed once for nine yards, and his impact on the Seahawks’ offense was obvious.

On the other hand, Graham’s lack of impact on the Saints’ offense was also hard to miss. This was a quiet game by the Pro Bowl tight end. Colston (11 catches, 144 yards, one TD) picked up some of the slack, and Brees shook off a below-par first half to finish with 309 yards passing on 24-of-43 completions.

Overall, the Saints outgained the Seahawks 409-277, but make no mistake: the Seahawks’ defense played a strong game, a winning game. By the time the Saints’ offense finally started to get into rhythm, they were running out of time.

And when Seattle’s defense absolutely needed stops, it usually got them.

115 responses to “Seahawks hold off Saints, advance to NFC title game

  1. It’s ok Saints fan. You guys are a really good team…at home.

    And Drew Bress is one heck of a fantasy QB.

  2. Congrats to the Seahawks, the team has a lot of talent and go do big things.

    I just wish Carroll wouldn’t be so unprofessional at times, especially when its crying about obvious rightly called flags or non flags, and it would be amazing if their defense would ever just go back to the huddle after a play.

    I hope Harvin is all right even though, He appears selfish, he has some talent when cares to use it. He had some solid plays.

    Best of luck to Wilson and the sane Seahawk fans moving forward.

  3. Do you feel that Brees?

    Um, yeah… It’s from the Saints jet going back home for the season.

    #soreATLfan

  4. That was a hell of a game no matter who you cheer for, but that final play with Colston was absolutely hilarious and I’m curious to hear what he says about it when he’s interviewed.

  5. Typical Brees game, if there’s any bad weather or bad pass protection he’s not very good. Until the weather settled down he was mediocre.

    The team that handled the elements better and made fewer mistakes won. That’s what championship caliber teams do.

    You really think Colin Kapernick/Cam Newton are winning in Seattle when the best passers in the game can’t get going? LOL.

  6. Wow, this game was there to be had by the Saints and it falls on Payton’s shoulders for calling a lousy game. Their D played great most of the day and good enough to win. But the offense trying to force-feed Graham instead of using him as a decoy and trying those stupid screen plays that never worked. And as well as they ran the ball, the Saints should have been more aggressive in their play-calling earlier in the game. It cost them big. Hats off to the Seahawks for winning, but Payton did a lousy job today and the Hawks better play better if they expect to win next Sunday. No question.

  7. dacktle49 says: Jan 10, 2014 4:47 PM
    Oh boy tomorrow cannot arrive soon enough! The AINTS win and shut these idiot Seagul fans up for at least a few months before they start spouting off around draft day on how the Hags are the best team and will be Superbowl champs.

    __________________________________

    Oh Boy! Me either! Is it tomorrow yet?

  8. Guys named Graham for the Saints sure didn’t bother showing up. No surprise in this one. The only surprise was that the Saints didn’t get blown out. Especially since Payton spent the entire first half channeling his inner Marty Schottenheimer. Rob Ryan’s defense is what kept this from being a laugher.

    I’ll take another week of hearing about noise, skittles, and rain to get the 49ers-Seahawks NFC Championship. Seattle definitely doesn’t look unbeatable.

  9. I thought the Seahawks were one and done haters??? Where are you now? Let me guess, the Seahawks are now going to lose next week. I predict we hear from you trolls how our offense isn’t good enough. Funny. Your argument about the this game was anything can happen. Well, our offense could come alive next weekend. Even if it doesn’t I’ll take our defense against the Niners or the Panthers next week. Also, hey Niners we did our job. Your move, I’m hoping you get it done so we can take you on next week.

  10. Congrats sehawks fans!! hopefully we can beat Carolina and see u in the nfc championship game!!!!!! To be the best u got to beat the best!!! gooooooo 49ers

  11. The Niner fans were wrong. We didn’t go one and done. Our defence is great. Wilson better play better next.

  12. Two quick takes:

    1. Why did Peyton call for a Field Goal from 48 yards in a driving rainstorm down by 15? Yes, it was 4th and long, but, I’d rather take my chances with Brees than a less than 50-50 field goal that would still leave you two scores behind.

    2. Why do receiving teams panic and try to field onside kicks 5 yards from the kick when you can’t even tell if the onside boot is going to even travel the 10 yards necessary? It seems that botched attempts to catch the ball early account for more “successful” onside kicks than balls that go 10 yards or more.

  13. That’s right silly chumps, ain’t a thang goin on at candlestick next weekend, maybe a lowrider car show or a swap meet because it ain’t gonna be the NFC title game

  14. That had to be the most idiotic last play attempt I have ever seen..At least put your backup QB out there to throw a 50 yard lateral across the defense. Better yet… get out of bounds!

  15. shaggytoodle says:
    Jan 11, 2014 7:59 PM

    I just wish Carroll wouldn’t be so unprofessional at times, especially when its crying about obvious rightly called flags or non flags, and it would be amazing if their defense would ever just go back to the huddle after a play.
    =======

    What? Where did Pete Carroll complain about flags?

    Maybe Jimmy Graham shouldn’t mouth off pre game and actually show up.

  16. Drew is a class act…..too bad the same thing can’t be said of their fans…….I’m making room on the sofa right now for you losers…….congrats to the Seahawks.

    Sincerely,
    Steelers Nation

  17. Russell Wilson 9 for 18 for 103 yards. not impressed with Seattles offense at all. Saints played horrible and still ended in a 1 possesion game. We all know saints are not good outside the dome. Seattles real test is next week.

  18. Game well played Saints fans, every time they had a chance its seems the Saints took advantage. The first 3 quarters were just too much though. Exciting game. Go ‘Hawks!

  19. Seattle had great starting field position, it should have been a blow out.

    Saints shouldn’t have been in that game. That would concern me if I am a Seahawks fan.

  20. No excuses. Game over. Nfc championship next week. We own it folks. Plus we’re the most hated team in the nfl, and the most feared. Best of luck to those still playing

  21. That was a very weak game by the Seahawks. Yah, they won… with a weak offense and a give away by the ‘Ain’ts.

    The Panthers or Niners won’t give the game away to the Hawks next week.

  22. tommymomoney says: Jan 11, 2014 8:02 PM

    Bring on the hate posts trolls. Seahawks played poorly and still won by 8. You wish your team played ball like this.

    ————————————————————

    Are you 12 year old 12th man?

  23. No one mentioning the selfish play by Lynch? He had the first down and looked like he was looking to go down, instead he goes into the end zone, the Saints had no timeouts left going down ends the game right there, instead he scored giving the Saints a chance. If not for an equally head scratching play by Colston the Saints have a Hail Mary to the end zone to tie it.

  24. Drew Brees is pure class and a great competitor. I am proud to say that my Hawks stood in the face of a future Hall of Fame QB on this big of a stage and put a sound beating on his team.

    The NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GOES THROUGH SEATTLE!! WOOOOOOO!

  25. @thepftpoet,
    Wow, it didn’t take long to drag out “the Vikes should have won” the 09 NFC title. It’s time to let it go. Really. I know it was a tough loss and I feel your pain, but it’s really time to be thinking about who should be the Vikes QB in 14. And I’m sure if the Vikes had won the 09 NFC title the way the Saints did, you’d still be celebrating it, too. Now, it’s time to cue up that dvd copy of the 09 NFC title game and enjoy!!

  26. Wilson was quite poor that game yet there he is with a win. Must be nice to play that poorly and still be able to win. Imagine a guy like Peyton or Rodgers having the type of game Wilson did…they’d get blown out.

    Here is the funny thing about football and why people who go on and on about the QB as the sole factor are crazy:

    Wilson had a poor game and they won. Last year he had a great game against the Falcons and they lost. Brees outplayed Wilson today while Wilson outplayed Ryan last year.

    That should be enough to show it’s not all about the QB yet I am sure it won’t sink in for all the people who go on about QBs.

  27. The Hawks win? Congrats! But how can that be?

    If you’ve been paying any attention you know that according to the lavender Larry toads the Hawks were “completely obliterated” by the treachery and cleverness of the Minnysoda trade of Harvin to Seattle.

    The 53 year history of abject failure continu

  28. thepftpoet says:
    Jan 11, 2014 8:02 PM
    The bountygate Saints are getting karma for cheating the Vikes out of a Super Bowl win.

    The Seahawks will get demolished next week by the 49ers.
    __________________________________
    Thanks for the Seahawk prediction! How do you think the Vikes will do?

  29. You gotta give up to the Hawks their first win in the divisional round under cheating Pete……they played well on D and ST. Lynch looks to be all they have on that side of the ball but Congrats to the 12th man on your win.

    Now I need the Niners to take care of business so we can have the biggest game yet of this budding rivalry.

    Go Niners!!!!!!

  30. mrwalterisgod says:
    Jan 11, 2014 8:06 PM

    What? Where did Pete Carroll complain about flags?
    ____________

    There was a play the Hawks ran to the outside, and a flag for holding was thrown.

    He was whining about it… shown whining about it, and it was as blatant hold and as easy as it gets to call.

    He’s like Jim Schwartz with a winning record.

  31. NAVORRO Bowman could have sent the niners to the Super Bowl 2 years ago by forcing the AHMAD BRADSHAW FUMBLE in GW field goal range. He did send the niners to the SB last year with perfect coverage and a play on the ball against Roddy White. He stopped Kuhn of a first, forced a fumble, and recovered the ball on the 3rd play of the game last week. And he saved Candlestick’s finale, scoring the final TD in the park. And he set the tone early in the SEA win with a forced fumble hit on Russel Wilson.

    What will Bowman do this time to send the niners back to the big game? I can’t wait to see what the NFL’s top defender has in store.

  32. For a team and fan base who think their Super Bowl victory is inevitable, I thought the Seahawks were actually very underwhelming today. This defense can be run on consistently, and the offense accounted for very little except as a result of the turnovers. Even the crowd was not that much a factor. The Saints did not have the fire power to beat them, but I fully expect the 49ers to show them the door next week.

  33. Am I stupid or are the refs and Pete Carroll stupid? Why was the clock STOPPED at 2:48 when the Seahawks receiver’s knee was DOWN inbounds and the play was upheld on a challenge by the Saints and ruled that the receiver’s knee was down inbounds …. WHY was the clock freakin’ stopped?

    Why didn’t Carroll complain about the stopped clock?

  34. Man,Wilson felt the pressure of performing. Dilfer-like. He’ll get love because, well, you know. Funny all the biggest cheaters and criminal teams are still in it. (Not SD or Indy), I WILL BE SHOCKED if Carolina wins tomorrow. NFL will not allow it. No way Seattle wins the Bowl. This is so rigged. Good luck for whomever you pull for, the DOJ will tell you who will win.

  35. 4d9erdynasty says:
    Jan 11, 2014 8:06 PM

    “We all know saints are not good outside the dome. Seattles real test is next week”.

    Agreed. Panthers should be pretty tough. Good defenses typically travel well. We’ll see how well they play traveling cross-country.

  36. Im surprised Payton’s game plane was to out physical what is likely the most physical team. Clearly not the strength of the dome team. Congrats Seattle, looking forward to seeing you next week.

  37. musicman495 says:
    Jan 11, 2014 8:21 PM
    For a team and fan base who think their Super Bowl victory is inevitable, I thought the Seahawks were actually very underwhelming today. This defense can be run on consistently, and the offense accounted for very little except as a result of the turnovers. Even the crowd was not that much a factor. The Saints did not have the fire power to beat them, but I fully expect the 49ers to show them the door next week.

    *******
    Ho-hum. YAWWWWWWWWWN. That’s what you all said the Saints would do against us. How’d that go?

  38. Great game. Every hater is talking about the hawks offense in this game, why don’t we give that top 5 Saints D some credit. I expect about the same output from the Seattle offense next week playing either the panthers D or the 9ers D. If the Hawks can make it through to the bowl there isn’t a D left in te AFC that can handle the hawks.

  39. citizenstrange says:
    Jan 11, 2014 8:24 PM
    Am I stupid or are the refs and Pete Carroll stupid? Why was the clock STOPPED at 2:48 when the Seahawks receiver’s knee was DOWN inbounds and the play was upheld on a challenge by the Saints and ruled that the receiver’s knee was down inbounds …. WHY was the clock freakin’ stopped?

    Why didn’t Carroll complain about the stopped clock?

    You are stupid. The challenge counts as a timeout.

  40. shaggytoodle says:
    Jan 11, 2014 8:08 PM

    “Seattle had great starting field position, it should have been a blow out.

    Saints shouldn’t have been in that game. That would concern me if I am a Seahawks fan”.

    If Seattle’s offense was playing even decently the games would be absolute blowouts. The defense is playing at an absolute elite level. Offenses just can’t put enough points on the board. Last team to even score 20 there was Minnesota, and that was nearly 2 months ago.

  41. Other than Russell Wilson it is really tough to root for anyone on the Seaderall PEDhawks, starting with the coach Pete “I left USC before the sanctions” Carrol.

  42. citizenstrange January 11, 2014, 5:24 PM PST

    Am I stupid or are the refs and Pete Carroll stupid? Why was the clock STOPPED at 2:48 when the Seahawks receiver’s knee was DOWN inbounds and the play was upheld on a challenge by the Saints and ruled that the receiver’s knee was down inbounds …. WHY was the clock freakin’ stopped?

    Why didn’t Carroll complain about the stopped clock?_________________________
    Because Payton challenged the play. Due to losing the challenge, the saints were charged a timeout. That stops the clock regardless of calling for timeout or challenge.

  43. seatownballers says:
    Jan 11, 2014 8:08 PM
    No excuses. Game over. Nfc championship next week. We own it folks. Plus we’re the most hated team in the nfl, and the most feared. Best of luck to those still playing

    —————————————————–

    You are neither the most hated….or most feared.

    Good heavens, you Seahawk fans are hilarious.

  44. Good, well-played, tough game. Hats off to the Saints “D”–they certainly came to play today. Hawks just a bit better of a team and a very tough out at home. There’s really no easy road to the SB in the NFC this season.

  45. Citizenstrange, the clock was stopped at 2:48 because the saints challenged the play. When you lose a challenge, you’re team is forced to take a timeout. That is why the clock was stopped.

  46. “Other than Russell Wilson it is really tough to root for anyone on the Seaderall PEDhawks, starting with the coach Pete “I left USC before the sanctions” Carrol.”

    True… Russell Wilson is about the only classy guy on that team and the only reason to root for them. The rest are a bunch of speed freaks and blabber mouths. Like their fan.s

  47. Mynameis12, actually genius, nearly all of America – including me and the bookmakers who made the Seahawks an 8 point favorite – said the Seahawks would win. I know it is fun to say “No one thought we would win.” But in fact, most people thought you would win more easily than you did. Which was the point of my post.

  48. The only thing “close” about this game was the final score (if 8 points truly is close). Seahawks up 16-0 at half, and up 16-0 at end of third. Seahawks dominated this game from stem to stern. This game was truly over at 23-8 with 2:40 left, before Seattle went all prevent.

  49. LOL at Graham for mouthing off pregame and then not showing up.

    I doubt that Kaep or Newton handle the conditions better than Brees was able to. But, that said, Seattle needs to do something about their offense. They need to get a big enough lead so the defense doesn’t have to save the game at the end.

    Need to hope Harvin is back next week. He takes a lot of the heat off Lynch. Imagine if Seattle had a wr1, wr2 and wr3 instead of 1 wr3 and 2 wr4’s (without Harvin). It’s a good thing this is a deep draft at WR.

  50. I’m completely behind Seattle. But Seattle looked kind of spooked. Wilson especially. Very good team, but, can they win it ALL. They have it all (I think), but the NFL loves the Niners. I can see a freak outcome of that game.

  51. If Harvin doesn’t play, panthers or 49ers go to the Super Bowl. Gotta score points and they still have lots of trouble doing that without Harvin. Seattle was nothing in the second half and the saints squandered an opportunity to beat a vulnerable defense. That defense is not as good as the press says it is.

  52. “I doubt that Kaep or Newton handle the conditions better than Brees was able to. ”

    LOL. Brilliant.

    Kaep or Newton will eat the Hawks lunch if they don’t up their game before next week.

  53. Shouldn’t have been this close… dropped interceptions, tipped pass for a 50yd gain.

    Seahawks still need to figure out their passing game, though. Can’t keep relying on the D

  54. Seahawks have always been a little flat after a bye week. They didn’t dazzle today, but they did WIN. I’d say “good game” to N.O., but those two dirty hits on Harvin and it’s “good riddance” instead. Playing dirty AGAIN and still losing. Ha!

  55. Congrats to Seattle for takin’ care of business today. Who Dat Nation take heart in knowing that if the Saints can 1) have a better post-Dec. 1st finish (they were 3-4 after a 9-2 start) and get the job done better away from the MBS (they were 4-6 overall on including playoffs) then U have to think that will be one of the favorites in the N

  56. LOL at Graham for mouthing off pregame and then not showing up.

    I doubt that Kaep or Newton handle the conditions better than Brees was able to. But, that said, Seattle needs to do something about their offense. They need to get a big enough lead so the defense doesn’t have to save the game at the end.

    Need to hope Harvin is back next week. He takes a lot of the heat off Lynch. Imagine if Seattle had a wr1, wr2 and wr3 instead of 1 wr3 and 2 wr4′s (without Harvin). It’s a good thing this is a deep draft at WR.

    ————————————————

    You’re right, you are a genius. Bress is the best outdoor QB in the league (end sarcasm)

    Kap only played in 5 degree weather last week beating Green Bay.

    You think harvin had it tough this week, he will be a target next week when Whitner and Reid sees him coming across the field.

  57. Good game by the Seahawks the better team won this game. As a Saints fan I’m really looking forward to next season. We found a LT, a stud at RB in Robinson, and a good enough defense to keep us in game when the offense struggles. Im not a hater at all I can appreciate a great team when I see one and the Seahawks are a great team.

  58. Congrats to the Seahawks for the win. Seattle’s defense is the best I’ve seen in the NFL in ages – only the Steelers’ “Steel Curtain” can compare.
    For you haters and whinny 49er fans – get over it. Seattle won. I hope their win stings alot of you and will haunt you.
    And Seattle will win next week, whether it’s the Panthers or 49ers.

  59. I’m way down the list here, but good win Seahawks. Sure it was a little ugly near the end, but those are the ones you’ve gotta win. There is no column for ugly wins, only wins. And this one put you one win away from the Super Bowl. Here’s hoping for an NFC West NFCC game.

  60. jayovalentine says:Jan 11, 2014 9:58 PM

    Seahawks will lose next week and those annoying fans can go away
    ——————————————————–

    You have said for how many weeks now?

  61. Glad im not the only one who thinks Darrell Bevell has been a little suspect. I hope someone takes him as a HC. Ive been livid with alot of his calls and tendencies all year.

  62. “For you haters and whinny 49er fans – get over it. Seattle won. I hope their win stings alot of you and will haunt you”

    Yes, Niners fans will be haunted by the Seattle win over the Saints.

    Where do people like this come from? I’ve been a Niner fan for 40+ years and in 35+ of those years they came home losers. I’m used to it. It’s just a game for goodness sake. Monday I’ll wake up and go to my job and forget about it.

    Whatever…

    In 44 years of the Seahawks history how many years did their fans come away disappointed? Sheesh. Grow up.

  63. “… Seattle’s defense is the best I’ve seen in the NFL in ages – only the Steelers’ “Steel Curtain” can compare.”

    Really? If it’s the best you’ve seen since the ’70s, then I guess you haven’t had a TV for 40 years. I’ll take the ’85 Bears or the ’00 Ravens D over the ’13 Seahawks.

  64. Man I swear the hardest thing to do in the NFL is win in Seattle, their crowd just screams the he time opposing team is on Offense, good job Seattle you deserve it and I must say way to go 12th man y’all are crazy,

  65. dirtydrew says: Jan 11, 2014 8:26 PM

    “Not impressed. Russell Wilson looked below average against a suspect defense.”

    This “suspect” defense finished the season ranked #2 in passing yards allowed behind the Seahawks, #4 in overall yards allowed and #5 in points per game allowed.

    There is a very good reason why Rob Ryan is being praised for his defense this year. This is the way that NO should ahve played in the first game.

    The fact is that Wilson struggled against a VERY good passing D and Lynch ran well against the #19 run defense. If you’re going to bash Wilson, then be fair and give a good defense credit for their part.

  66. I can’t believe no one is bringing up the fact that then saints clearly put a bounty out on havin and clearly have not learned their lesson. They should take away that fake title.

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