Seahawks in control through two quarters vs. New Orleans

AP

The Seahawks were the NFC’s top team in the regular season, and they have played to that form early in their divisional-round matchup vs. the Saints.

Led by strong play in all three phases, the Seahawks have broken out to a 16-0 halftime lead in Saturday’s playoff game in Seattle.

The Seahawks’ defense has been dominant. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has struggled, completing just 5-of-11 passes for 34 yards. Tight end Jimmy Graham doesn’t have a catch, and he has been targeted just once.

The Seahawks’ offense, meanwhile, has produced in the running and passing games. Tailback Marshawn Lynch has racked up 69 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, while quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for 68 yards on 7-of-9 passing.

Finally, the Seahawks’ special teams has done its part, too. Kicker Steven Hauschka has connected on all three of his field goal attempts. By contrast, Saints kicker Shayne Graham missed his lone field goal attempt of the half. Also, the Seahawks’ first points were set up in part by a poor punt by the Saints’ Thomas Morstead, with the Seahawks’ capitalizing with a Hauschka field goal less than five minutes into the game.

All things considered, the Saints’ defense held up well in the first half. While it gave up some ground (163 yards), it allowed just one touchdown — a 15-yard second-quarter Lynch TD run that came two plays after Saints tailback Mark Ingram lost a fumble at the New Orleans 24. That score extended the Seahawks’ lead to 13-0, with Hauschka adding a short field goal near the end of the half for the 16-point edge.

The Saints got a solid first half from tailback Khiry Robinson, who racked up 44 yards on eight carries. However, their utter lack of passing-game punch has really hurt them thus far.

The game has been played in windy and wet conditions — conditions that have seemed to affect New Orleans a little more than Seattle through two quarters. Morstead mishandled the snap before his 16-yard first-quarter punt, and Brees’ passing has not been to his usual high standard.