Posted December 03, 2013

Seahawks trounce Saints with ground-shaking crowd noise and a dominant performance

New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks
Try as they might, the Saints had no answer for Russell Wilson. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Try as they might, the Saints had no answer for Russell Wilson. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

SEATTLE — The last time the New Orleans Saints came to CenturyLink Field, they lost 41-36 to a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team in the wild-card round of the 2010 playoffs. In that game, running back Marshawn Lynch pulled off a 67-yard touchdown run that got the local fans hopped up enough to create a seismic event. With 3:22 left in the game. Lynch bounced off what seemed like the entire New Orleans defense, the “Beastquake” nickname was born, and the home-field advantage at CenturyLink grew in stature.

On Monday night, it happened to the Saints again — same loss at “The Clink,” same seismic event, same beatdown when it counted. Only this time, two things were different — the game wasn’t close at all (it was actually more lopsided than the 34-7 final might indicate), and it wasn’t Lynch who defined things for the Seahawks this time. This time, it was second-year quarterback Russell Wilson who riddled New Orleans’ defense in every possible way. It was also different in that this Seahawks defense did not in any way resemble the one that allowed 474 yards, 32 first downs, and 36 points to Drew Brees’ offense back then. This time, it was 12 first downs, 188 total yards, and seven points in what can only be called a signature performance for a defense that was already among the league’s best.

Brees’ difficult day started early. Halfway through the first quarter, defensive end Cliff Avril broke through the back of the pocket, forced the ball out of Brees’ hand, and watched as linemate Michael Bennett returned the fumble 22 yards for a touchdown. That score, according to the Seattle Times, created a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake.

Here we go again.

Brees was atypically limited from front to back. The pressure created by Seattle’s front affected his ability to make deep throws, and he had just a handful of those all night. As the game went on, Seattle started stacking the box in even the most obvious passing situations. Perhaps the signature play of this signature performance came with 12:23 left in the third quarter. The Saints had second-and-18 at their own nine-yard line, down 27-7, in a situation that screams “passing play.” Seattle’s defense responded by putting 10 defenders in the box anyway, and the flummoxed Saints were forced to call a time out.

“That we have trust. We have trust in our players,” cornerback Richard Sherman told me when I asked him what that particular play signified. “We have trust in our scheme, and trust in the ability of our guys. We know what we’re doing — our coaches have 100 percent trust in the players and the scheme. They run a good scheme, and we attack. We played attack ball all day.”

When you stick perhaps the game’s best quarterback with what would be a gift-wrapped opportunity to make a play in the hands of lesser defenses and he can’t pull the trigger, you know you’ve got something special. Brees tried eight passes 15 or more yards past the line of scrimmage on the night, and completed none of them, per ESPN’s Stats & Info.

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“They are very good,” Brees said of that defense. “They don’t have any weak links. They are very good up front, at the linebacker position, in the secondary. They put it all together and they play very well within their scheme. Obviously, they play extremely well at home, because they can thrive on that crowd noise, and an offense’s inability to communicate, and all of those things. They deserve a lot of credit.”

Safety Earl Thomas expected Brees to throw deep more often, based on a regular-season loss to the Saints at the Superdome on Nov. 21, 2010, when the Saints’ quarterback threw for four touchdown passes in a 34-19 win. This time, Thomas knew what to look for.

“Actually, I was surprised, because in my rookie year … that’s why I was a little bit motivated here than in another game, because he got the better of me in my rookie year. So, I definitely had a chip on my shoulder to prove that I was a young boy back then, but I’m a grown man now.”

Seattle’s domination of the Saints’ offense was even more impressive when you consider that starting cornerback Walter Thurmond was serving the first game of a four-game suspension for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. Backups Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane played like pros in Thurmond’s stead, racking up key pass deflections and running down every one of New Orleans’ complex formations and talented receivers.

“Yeah, Maxwell played a great game for us.” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “Max has been doing it, that’s not a surprise. I tried to stand up for him, that he’s going to do okay, he’s shown it, and he’s played enough football. We know he can play the game, and he’ll just get better with the terms and experience and all that. Jeremy Lane jumping out there for the first time, playing all that nickel stuff against some really good guys and good schemes, he did a terrific job. He’s still a pup playing in that situation, but he came through really well.”

As for Wilson, he easily outdueled his idol. While Brees completed 23 of 38 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown, Wilson completed 22 of 30 for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Moreover, he put up those numbers in a dizzying array of offensive formations — everything from two-back Pistol to boot action to three-wide outside the numbers. An early deep pass to tight end Zach Miller came off run action, when Seattle’s offensive line charged out to the left, and Wilson had the easy completion the other way. When the Saints tried man coverage on his deep receivers, Wilson killed them with fade routes that had the perfect combination of touch, timing, and arc.

“I texted Coach Carroll yesterday, and said, ‘The way we practiced this week, it was the best week we’ve ever had.’” Wilson recalled. “That preparation was big, and I really think it showed up tonight.”

In truth, nobody should be surprised by this. The Seahawks beat the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime one year ago Monday, and finished the 2012 regular season by outscoring their opponents 193-60 in their last five games. This season, they’ve outscored their opponents 340-186, and that +154 point differential is the NFL’s best. They’ve lost two total games in the last calendar year — one regular-season contest to the Colts, and one playoff game to the Falcons — by a total of eight points. They finished the 2012 season ranked first in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted team efficiency metrics, and they are first now.

In other words, as great at the Saints may be, this should not be a complete shock. Seattle’s dominance over the last year has been minimized in awareness because of the “Tiger Slam” aspect, but it’s shown up on the field week after week.

Nobody had to convince the Saints, who slipped into an NFC South tie with the Carolina Panthers at 9-3. They face Carolina twice in the next three weeks — meaning that not only did they lose hope for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but they might also have to come in as a wild-card.

“Obviously, it’s a difficult loss,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said. “We didn’t do a lot of things well in that game. We’ll have to come back on a short week now, and get ready to play another really good football team at home on Sunday. We have to do a better job as coaches, starting with me. There are too many things we didn’t do or do well enough to give ourselves the opportunity to win. Credit Seattle, they made the plays they needed to and were certainly the better team tonight.”

It was a fun night for the better team. Thomas and linebacker K.J. Wright were dancing in between plays with the knowledge that the road to the Super Bowl will almost certainly go through this winter nightmare-land. The Seahawks’ crowd set yet another Guinness World Record with a decibel reading of 137.6, and the entire city sent a very definitive message to the rest of the NFC:

You don’t want to play here, but you’re going to have to if you want any part of a championship dream.

55 comments
jackgorfin
jackgorfin

That was the loudest crowd I have seen in a long time, great energy, not even a seattle fan but that was fun to watch

pto26
pto26

Die hard Saints Fan. It hurt to watch the game ,but my hat off to seattle, what a but whipping good luck.

inthepresent
inthepresent

so someone tell me why graham is doing that idiotic thing when his team is down 17 - zip ?

RobLambeth
RobLambeth

Is there any fan base more in love with themselves than Seattle's? They have a great team and all we ever hear about is their ability to be bigger loudmouths than anyone else, and they are so proud of themselves for it. People wearing jerseys with a 12 on the back and FAN instead of a player's name, the lamest thing ever.

George
George

Carolina vs Seattle (if it happens) would be a good game to watch.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

Seattle fans are cracking me up. Funny, I always thought Seattle was just a suburb of Vancouver...


"WE WANT THE BALL, AND WE"RE GOING TO SCORE!!"


Seattle and fans = Born Losers. 


Hey, didn't you clowns have a basketball team?



Can't wait for this year's market correction, and the cameras panning to weeping PooChicken fans.

Jamey_Grimm
Jamey_Grimm


..what Judy implied I am startled that anyone can profit $7435 in 4 weeks on the internet. why not find out more.......... Works25.ℭOM

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

Couldn't have happened to a more (un)deserving, over-hyped team. The arrogant Saints are still milking that ridiculous 'Katrina" sympathy card and are clearly not that good away from home.

Blowout or not, I enjoyed every single snap....THANKS, SEAHAWKS!

a52wkhi
a52wkhi

I googled "Tiger slam" and found nothing related to football. What is the writer of this column talking about?

OttawaWendy
OttawaWendy

On the road in the Super Bowl, they will be a strong and deserving team, but not unbeatable.  They might win or lose.  But I don't see how they fail to make it through the NFC Championship Game when they will play both games in that stadium.  That is a huge advantage and they make it work for them.  I am not shocked that they beat New Orleans, but given that New Orleans is an excellent team, I'm surprised by how dominant they were in every facet of the game.

weir6
weir6

Who dat?  

An illiterate fan base with an aging team and no hopes of winning another Superbowl.  Dat who

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

Barring a major injury, or a rash of minor injuries:  If the Seahawks don't win the Super Bowl it will be a choke.  They're that damn good.  

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

Teams should lodge a labor complaint. You can't tell me it's legal to work in an environment where the noise level reaches 137 decibels. Perhaps both teams should be mandated to wear sound-attenuating earphones. In any case, it's an advantage that goes beyond the bounds of fairness, and should be dealt with. It's well known that the stadium was designed to do this - it should be ordered to be remedied from a construction standpoint. The Poohawks just aren't that good...

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

road goes thru Seattle but they CAN'T win on the road i.e. superbowl, if they get there

TimMcConnell
TimMcConnell

@RobLambeth This article wasn't written by a Seahawks fan,  the only one patting us on the back is SI. Just because our stadium was designed to amplify the noise, you still have to put asses in the seats to make that much noise. And wearing a #12 with Fan written on it means you like the whole team, not just one player. Plus, this team has so many interchangeable parts, that jersey you just shelled out $150 for with a players name and number might not be relevant next week.
So hate away, think we're lame. The only thing more lame is a bitter troll.

yeahisaiditsowhathuh
yeahisaiditsowhathuh

There's not too many people are Joebuckster fans...

It's very easy to see why...


The utter pain of being so totally irrelevant shows. 

TimMcConnell
TimMcConnell

@JoebucksterIn reading a lot of your posts, I see criticism and sarcasm, but no appreciation for any one team. I find you very negative, and your lack of ability to support and promote your own team tends to make me believe you have a cognitive issue. Clinically speaking, you may want to get checked out for depressive personality disorder. Go to a doctor and get checked out. You need help.

nortran11
nortran11

@Joebuckster Do you really have nothing better to do with your life than to bad mouth Seattle and it's fans? You sir are a pathetic little man consumed by hatred. Grow up

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@btcvsolo The Saints problem was hiring the over-hyped fat brother...


The OverHype currently reside with Seattle, my foolish friend. Might want to recheck this years games and look at all of the close calls to poor teams...

Tim C
Tim C

Have no idea either.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

@a52wkhi  

Tiger Woods held all 4 major titles at once, but he did it over 2 seasons.  So maybe the writer is referring to how Seattle has had a year of dominance, if you look at how they have played starting at the end of last season and into this year so far.

 

a52wkhi
a52wkhi

@weir6 illiterate? really? where does that come from?

George
George

@PhillyPenn Getting to the Super Bowl via strong homefield advantage

and WINNING the Super Bowl at a neutral site are 2 totally different things.   A loss at MetLife stadium in Feb wouldn't necessarily be a "choke"


ChuckTelschow1
ChuckTelschow1

@Joebuckster LOL, stupidest comment I've read in a long time!!! Have you ever been to a football game dude?

Tim C
Tim C

@WHO*IS*ESPN Seattle has the best road record in the NFL this year.

Stick that in your bonnet.

O hold it..now you'll say look at the records of the teams they beat.

Tell you what.....look at the won/loss record of opponents of ANY division leader, and their opponents won/loss record will all be the same.....their opponents lost more than they won.

Ever consider THAT is why those teams ARE NOT in the playoffs?

glitterachi
glitterachi

@WHO*IS*ESPN ...they've only lost 1 road game this year. They win on the road all the time. (Not to mention that both teams will be "on the road" in the Superbowl)

weir6
weir6

@a52wkhi @weir6 The rally cry itself is an illiterate exclamation.  "Who dat say dey gon beat dem Saints" -- about as dumb sounding as it gets.  F the Saints

Tim C
Tim C

It is and has been noted before.


Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@PhillyPenn @Joebuckster Barely beat the Panthers. Barely beat the Texans. Barely beat the Colts, Titans, Cardinals, Rams, Bucks - yet they trounce teams at home. Does that not point to an incongruous advantage? 

mike202
mike202

@weir6 @a52wkhi   Illiterate?  This from a guy who has to use profanity to make a point?

duckfan59
duckfan59

@Joebuckster @PhillyPenn "barely beat" beats "barely lost" every time. Wins don't come with style points.

p.s. They lost to the Colts. If you're going to try and make a point at least get your facts straight.

I've read your idiotic posts here and the only thing I can come up with is you were dropped on your head as a child - repeatedly.

Boogieman1281
Boogieman1281

@Joebuckster @PhillyPenn Dude, this is the NFL.  Even the worst team isn't that far inferior to the best, from a talent standpoint.  There are no Chattanoogas or Idaho States in the NFL.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@Joebuckster @PhillyPenn "Barely" or not.  They win.  You don't get extra points for beating a team handily.  


KC is louder than Seattle.  KC just lost to the Broncos at home.  Your premise is now moot.