The Seattle Seahawks rode on the strong Marshawn Lynch's two touchdowns and 140 yards on the ground offensively, while the defense confounded Drew Brees and the Saints for the second time this season.
It was a rough day for Russell Wilson and the passing game, but in key situations he was able to step up and deliver what has become expected of him. No on offense ever made any critical mistakes, and that's what seemed to be the difference in the game.
New Orleans - 15
Seattle - 23
|Position Unit||First-Half Grade||Final Grade|
NFC Playoffs: Divisional Round vs. Saints
Final Analysis for Seattle Seahawks
Pass Offense: Russell Wilson threw the ball nine teams each half and that was enough for Seattle to pull out a win. He finished the day 9/18 for a meager 103 yards, throwing for 35 in the second half.
None of the team's receivers really stood out. Doug Baldwin led the way with 30 yards on two catches, with one coming on a crucial third-down conversion. The offensive line did an okay job of keeping the pocket clean for the most part, but still allowed three sacks.
Run Offense: Marshawn Lynch proved to be the engine for the offense today, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. As a team, Seattle finished out the day with 174 yards for an average of five yards per carry.
Pass Defense: Drew Brees seemed to figure things out in the second half, throwing for 262 yards and a score in the second half. He was lucky to avoid an interception on two occasions and the Seattle secondary did a quality job of shutting things down for as long as they did.
Seattle's front seven did a much better job of pressuring Brees than their one-sack game would let on. Brees was constantly under duress, but did a quality job of showing off his pocket awareness.
Run Defense: After Khiry Robinson and Mark Ingram rushed for 78 yards in the first half, they were only able to tack on another 28 yards over the rest of the game. Safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas led Seattle in tackles with 14 and 11.
They were huge in run support as well as shutting down Jimmy Graham thoughout the game.
Special Teams: Other than allowing the Saints to recover an onside kick late in the game, Seattle's special teams units did a remarkable job.
Hauschka went 3/3 on his field goal opportunities, Jon Ryan averaged 36.7 yards per punt in some very windy conditions and limited New Orleans to no punt returns and 21.5 yards per kick return.
Coaching: While the Seahawks put up 23 points, the offense left a lot to be desired as the game wore on. Before their final drive of the game, the Seahawks had just two first downs in the half. Darrell Bevell needs to get things figured out for an offense that has struggled down the stretch.
Overall, the team performed well enough to win, relying on the two pillars of the team: defense and the running game.
First-Half Analysis for Seattle Seahawks
Pass Offense: The weather conditions have made it difficult to throw the ball for both teams, but Russell Wilson has fared better than his counterpart. Starting two scoring drives in New Orleans' territory has certainly helped the Seahawks offense and limited Wilson's productions so far.
Through the half, Wilson has gone 7/9 for 68 yards, limiting the passing to short throws with a long of 16. As long as the running game keeps performing well and the Saints continue to shoot themselves in the foot, Wilson won't have to do much in this game.
Run Offense: Marshawn Lynch is off to a fast start, already surpassing from the teams' Week 13 total with 15 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Seattle has rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Wilson hasn't had to scramble for any gains as of yet. He's done a fantastic job of buying his receivers more time to get open.
Pass Defense: The "Legion of Boom" has hardly been tested, as Sean Payton has opted to keep the Saints passing game tied to short passes and screen plays. Drew Brees has been inaccurate on throws beyond the line of scrimmage, completing 5/12 for 34 yards with three completions coming behind the LOS to running backs.
Run Defense: Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson have done a good job of running the ball, combining for 78 yards on 14 touches. However, the lack of any semblance of a passing game and Ingram's fumble has nullified their effects.
Special Teams: Steven Hauschka is perfect on the day making all three of his field goal attempts in the game from 38, 49 and 26 yards out. Jon Ryan has shanked a punt, but that may be due to the strong wind. Otherwise, the special teams units have been their usual strong selves, limiting the Saints from making any big returns.
Coaching: The Seahawks have come out prepared to handle the weather conditions and are limiting Brees from making any plays in the passing game again. After holding Brees to 147 yards in the teams' first meeting, he has just 34 yards through 2 quarters.
As long as Pete Carroll can keep his guys playing mistake-free football, their lead should only get wider.