Especially when a pack of sight-challenged referees reminiscent of the 2005 Super Bowl were calling the game.
The erratic yet enthusiastic Seahawks football club learned what happens when too many turnovers are donated to a team with more talent. You don’t win. You take yourself out of the game. You give yourself no chance of winning, even if your offense is moving the ball like a bull through a Tukwilla China shop.
Starting the game, Seattle was still without a good portion of their starting line, including guard Michael Gibson on offense, and Colin Cole and EJ Wilson on defense. Plus they were missing sensational Golden Tate and Ruvell Martin at wide receiver, and Anthony McCoy at tight end.
New Orleans, too, was missing key personnel including all pro and former family-paid Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, who had a pre-game hug-fest with former coach and current pal Pete Carroll. The Saint’s tight end and ex-NY Giant Jeremy Shockey was also out.
New Orleans looked particularly vulnerable down the middle with safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sharper still out, plus cornerback Patrick Robinson and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. And Seattle did take advantage as Matt Hasselbeck had his fourth best passing performance in his professional career. But it was still not enough to defeat the champs.
The game started with both teams trading sluggish three and outs. Seattle then answered with a nine play 80 yard drive which should have yielded a touchdown, had it not stalled at the one yard line.
Unlike the week prior with new Seahawk coach demonstrating a remarkable learned lesson the hard way, this week he begrudgingly settled for a field goal. On a fourth and goal from the one yard line to take a 3-0 lead with 7:09 left in the first quarter.
New Orleans answered with their first of many long touchdown drives that the Seattle defense had no answers for, this one with 12 plays for 80 yards that ended with a leaping Saint fullback Chris Ivory falling into the end zone after sailing over both lines.
Seattle’s Marcus Trufant went down injured, leaving Rookie Walter Thurman with plenty of minutes.
The drive also featured six carries by Ivory for 42 yards, including a four yard scamper from the five yard line that looked like an Australian rugby match dragging seven big fellas to withing a yard of scoring, which set up the high-jump on the next.
For alert Cougar fans, yes that is the same ex-Washington State gridder from Texas, oft injured during his first three years of his collegiate career before transferring to little-known Tiffin College in Ohio as a senior.
A minute and half left in the first quarter, and Leon Washington returned the kickoff 30 yards, where Hasslebeck hit wide receiver Ben Obomanu down the right side for a huge gain to the New Orleans 28.
Two plays later, one to Lynch followed by an errant pass over Mike Williams’ head on the left side of the end zone, and Seattle settled for their second field goal just seconds into the second quarter, now trailing 7-6.
But they were playing well. Seattle held a 125 to 39 advantage in passing yardage and a 126 to 89 advantage in rushing at this point in the game.
New Orleans took control of the ball and the game at this point. From their own 20 yard line, they proceeded to move the ball downfield with a long controlled drive of 80 yards in ten plays while consuming four minutes and 38 seconds.
Brees drilled Marques Colston with two Seattle defenders sandwiching him, for a Saints 14-6 lead with 10:17 left in the half.
Seattle responded with a three and out, including a third down sideline screen pass which Marshawn Lynch dropped that had a huge gain written all over it.
Seattle punted, and New Orleans again drove the ball the full length of the field starting from their own 36, with the aid of a 15 yard personal foul on Roy Lewis for missing a early fair catch sign that he probably had no chance of seeing.
Eight plays and 42 yards later, New Orleans enjoyed a 21-6 lead with 5:48 left in the half.
It could have been over at this point. Seattle could have behaved as they did last year, rolled over, and walked out with a humiliating thrashing by the Super Bowl champs. But happily they didn’t do that.
Instead, Seattle fought back with a gritty twelve play drive of their own, ending with a quick touchdown pass over the middle from Hasselbeck to Obamanu with just under two minutes left in the half.
Mike Williams was absolutely tearing up New Orleans, and when they finally started to key on him, up stepped Brandon Stokely for his first two catches in three weeks, both of which were huge plays to keep the drive alive.
The last two minutes of the half saw a monumental penalty called that all but decided the game and gave Seattle fans nightmares of giddy Steeler fans jeering them after referees behave like paid Pittsburg employees five years prior.
After what appeared to be a defensive stand and a Saints three and out, Seattle’s Raheem Brock was flagged for a fifteen yard bogus personal foul for an alleged helmet to helmet hit on the Drew Brees.
Replays clearly showed it was a nutty call, more like a chest to chest hit, and not a bad hit at that.
And more disturbingly, the only way Brock could have stopped his run in process, would have required him to stop in mid-air a split-second after Brees threw the ball. He had been in a full sprint sack attack while the ball was still in the hands of Brees.
It was simply an awful call, and sadly for Seattle it was game-changing. It killed all the momentum the Seahawks had just built up, especially when New Orleans scored yet another touchdown two plays later.
A huge 30 yard pass play to Ladell Betts down the right side down to the Seattle 23. Followed by a touchdown strike to 6-4” wide receiver Marques Colston.
The Saints muffed the extra point when holder and backup quarterback Daniel Chase iron-handed the long snap, then attempted to score up the right side. He came close, but was ruled his knee had touched at the one yard line before he managed to sneak the ball inside the pylon.
Nevertheless it was 27-13 with a minute left in the half.
It would be the most critical two minute span of the game. In fact the Seahawks sidelines were still muttering about the call on Brock when the Saints scored, and it could have been THE reason the Saints did score that quickly!
But Seattle didn’t mope for long.
After New Orleans kicked the ball out of bounds at the Seattle 25, the Seahawks took over at their own 40. Hasslebeck then hit Ben Obomanu with a long lofter to the Seattle 37, and followed with two quick strikes to Stokely to put the ball at the Saint’s 15 yard line with 30 seconds left.
But once again the hated referees haunted Seattle, this time a holding accusation on backup Chester Pitts that had the Seahawk faithful near suicidal. Yet another terrible call by referees at a very critical time!
Seattle now faced a first and twenty with 33 seconds left, when once again our boys in stripes nailed Seattle with a third straight mystery call. This time Hasselbeck was called for an intentional grounding, which made it second and 14 miles.
Hasselbeck, infuriated with smoke still shooting out his ears, promptly drilled his new best pal Brandon Stokly across the middle to put the ball at the 25. Olindo Mare then nailed a 43 yard field goal to make it 27-16 as time ran out in the half.
Seattle felt ok to be only down by nine points at half, but teeth were gnashing knowing they could have been leading, had not five middle aged guys in dire need of sit-ups, gone hankie crazy.
It was a huge shift in momentum, and instead of Seattle skipping to the locker room with a surprising and totally unexpected lead, they had been thrice mutilated by officials who Pete Carroll was about ready to string up by their thumbs.
Still Seattle kept coming, and what could have been a disaster and by now, huge New Orleans rout, was surprisingly still a game in which they could win.
But it was not to be, because at the start of the second half New Orleans once again drove the ball long with only six plays, consuming 80 yards in a scant two minutes.
34 to 16 New Orleans with 14 minutes left in the third quarter. Ugh.
Seattle got the ball and promptly turned it over after moving quickly on two plays to mid-field. Normally sure-handed Marshawn Lynch fumbled and the Saints recovered.
It was the first lost Seattle fumble all season long by running backs, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
New Orleans again mounted a long time-consuming drive, taking it clear down to the Seattle four yard line on ten plays. But Brees then threw a short pass to non-breaking tight end David Thomas, right into the arms of Seattle’s huge linebacker David Hawthorne.
It was the sixth straight game that Drew Brees had thrown an interception, and momentarily gave the Seahawks a huge boost. Instead of trailing by three touchdowns, they at least had a chance to draw near.
And Seattle did just that, putting together their best long drive of the afternoon going nearly 80 yards on ten plays, only to see it horrendously stopped at the Saint’s 23 yard line when New Orleans linebacker Marvin Mitchell stripped Lynch of the ball.
Another wasted drive with no points, with a scrappy New Orleans team saved once again by some heads up defensive play to end the third quarter.
The Saints came roaring back downfield, as they had been doing all day long, and ten plays later attempted a field goal after stalling at the Seattle nine yard line.
Which Hartley Garrett pushed. The ball hit the left upright and bounced harmlessly to the carpet before a stunned and bemused Superdome crowd.
Seattle then raced back upfield on a nifty six play drive to the 50, before a near interception thrown over the head of tight end Chris Baker nearly stopped them again.
Actually it would have been an interception had caffinated spunky Coach Pete Carroll not challenged the call. Replays showed that the ball had indeed been trapped. And only half a dozen minutes later our crack officiating team agreed, remarkable since it had been about as obvious as a air horn in a cathedral.
Following that stellar example of officiating, with just over nine minutes left in the game, Hasselbeck found Justin Forsett on six of the next eight plays, taking the ball clear down to the two yard line where they had a 3rd & 2 but got stuffed up the middle.
The drive ended with Seattle hitting a 20 yard field goal with just over six minutes left, for a 34-19 Saints lead. FOX tv broadcasters Brian Billick and Thom Bennaman treated fans to a two minute tantrum of whimpering and bemoaning this move, insisting that Carroll is well known for his fourth down gambles. How could the man have not done that in this situation?! Oh the horror of it all!
Seattle then attempted an on-side kick, and nearly pulled it off perfectly before once again head official Mike Carey and his referees pow-wow decided that Lawyer Malloy, who fell on the kick at the 40, had actually come from out of bounds negating him as an eligible participant.
They gave the ball back to the Saints, who killed the clock on a very pretty time-consuming 15 play drive before Seattle rookie Earl Thomas picked off a meaningless pass in the end zone with only 22 seconds left. But it did tie Thomas with former Seahawk Michael Boulware for the rookie pass interception record.
All in all it wasn’t a bad game, but it just wasn’t good enough when playing the Super Bowl champs.
The same champs who ironically, Seattle could potentially be playing again in two months if Seattle wins the west and the Saints come in as the wild card.