The Monday night matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints was viewed as the matchup of the year in the NFC. It was a game two cities had been looking to for several weeks. Pundits labeled it as THE key game on the road to home field advantage. It was supposed to be a tough game decided in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks had other ideas.
The Seahawks treated the game as an opportunity to not only send a message to the Saints, but to throw a vicious right hook to the mouth of the rest of the National Football League.
Sixteen plays into the game, Seattle took a 10-0 lead on a Michael Bennett fumble-recovery return for a touchdown. Nine plays later it was 17-0, and just when it appeared the Saints offense had settled down and might give them a chance to compete, the Seahawks, led by Russell Wilson, went 170 yards on 22 plays over two possessions to virtually put the game away at halftime.
When the third quarter concluded, Drew Brees had 92 yards passing, had been sacked once and hit four times. Tight end Jimmy Graham had two catches for 22 yards. By the time Brees surpassed the 100-yard mark — he averages 332 yards per game — the Hawks had a commanding and ultimately insurmountable 34-7 lead.
That, my friends, is punching an opponent in the face. Over. And. Over.
The Seahawks ran hard with Marshawn Lynch, despite little success, but Wilson was effective on key read options and a few scrambles, and the MVP candidate hit nine different receivers for 310 yards and three scores.
The Seahawks did not turn the ball over, won the time of possession battle by more than seven minutes and did something to Brees that hadn’t been done since the final regular season game of 2010: They held him to fewer than 200 yards passing. In fact, Brees’ 147 yards through the air is the lowest total since he tossed for 132 at the New York Giants on Christmas Eve 2006.
If the game was a chess match, the Hawks would have quipped “checkmate” in the third quarter, if not before. If it were a UFC tilt, the Saints would have tapped out sometime late in the second quarter. In boxing terminology, the Saints not only failed to go the distance, but they were knocked out early against a team they’ll likely have to go through if they want to reach the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks, as a result of the victory, are 11-1 with a two-game lead over the Saints — with a tie-breaker edge due to the head-to-head advantage — and a three-game lead over the division-rival 49ers heading into next Sunday’s matchup at San Francisco.
The statement made Monday by the Seahawks undoubtedly rings loud throughout the NFC. The message sent reads like an old Seattle Supersonics mantra: “Not In Our House.”
The Saints showed an innate inability to punch back. Not because they aren’t equipped to do so, but because the Seahawks landed a number of haymakers and wouldn’t let the Saints breathe, let alone counter punch.
If anyone outside Seattle has Super Bowl aspirations, they’ll become fans of everyone left on the Seahawks’ schedule, because CenturyLink Field and the loudest crowd in sports history throws their own punch. Not that the team on the field needed any help Monday.
– Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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