Five Things We Learned From The Seattle Seahawks Win Over The New Orleans Saints

James WilliamsonSenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2011

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks runs for a 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

It seems like every postseason, at least for the last few years, has had something genuinely unique in the cards. The 16-0 New England Patriots in 2007, the Arizona Cardinals actually played real football in 2008, and in 2009 we saw an onside kick to open the second half in the Super Bowl.

This year, we have something even more remarkable. We have a team with a losing record go into the postseason, and not only does this team not get crushed, they actually win the (insert any adjective you want) game.

This game was a game of many statements to put it simply. Many things can be deduced from this 41-36 win by the Seattle Seahawks over the reigning champs. The first is about a single player.

Marshawn Lynch Isn't Ready to be Called a Bust Yet: I know it's hard to call him a bust when he has a Pro Bowl to his name, but I think a lot of Titans fans will call Vince Young a bust even though he's been to the Pro Bowl. The same concept applies to Lynch too.

The Buffalo Bills traded Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks because they weren't doing very well, and Lynch was underachieving severely. He only played in six games last year due to in part by a three-game suspension at the beginning of the 2009 season, and then finally was replaced by Fred Jackson in Buffalo due to lackluster play.

Lynch's problem was he had a big mouth, and he didn't always back it up with big plays. The Bills finally traded him after four games in the 2010 season to the Seahawks for a fourth round pick in the 2011 draft, and a 2012 pick that is either a sixth round pick or a fifth round pick depending on how well he plays.

Well, if he plays like he did in the playoff game, they'll get that fifth round pick. That is probably the most amazing run we've seen in five years possibly. He broke, by my count, six tackles in that 67-yard scamper. He was amazing. That run was the finishing blow to the Saints. Theoretically they had a chance to come back, but I'm pretty sure a majority of Saints fans realized that this wasn't their day.

Does this run signify that Lynch will have a career rebound? I don't know, but it does tell me that he doesn't want the history books to remember him as a bust. It shows that he wants to play football, and he wants to help his teammates in Seattle.

Regardless of his previous legal problems, and his antics, the question of will this man try hard to perform for the team has been answered with an emphatic yes.

The Current Playoff System Deserves to Stay: I can't tell you the number of bloggers and fans and people that I have talked to personally who want this current system of playoffs gone. The system really lost favor in the eyes of the public this year when a 7-9 team was in the playoffs while the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at home.

Nobody gave Seattle a chance even though they were at home. No one that I can recall. Many people thought the Saints would blow the Seahawks out by 30-40 points. It didn't happen. A 7-9 team beat the reigning champions.

The fact that it may be viewed as a fluke is irrelevant really. What happened, happened, and it is time to realize that this system, while it may be flawed, is the right system. The purpose of the system is to have division rivals fight each other for the division lead which leads to playoffs.

The Seahawks did what they were supposed to do. They beat their division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneeers did not, so I personally cannot complain that they weren't given a fair shake. They may have had two great teams in the Saints and Falcons in their division, but you have to beat great teams sometimes to make it to the playoffs.

Plus, the whole idea of rivalry games loses its significance if the winners of those games are left out of the playoffs due to the fact they may have a lesser record than another team in another division. Also, how do you know that the team with a higher record didn't just have an easier schedule than the division winner with a lesser record?

If one division faces teams that finish the year below .500 and another division faces teams that finish the year at .750, then those teams that face the better teams are more likely to lose more games than the ones that face the subpar teams.

Division rivals, like the Cowboys and Redskins, can't argue that the other team had an easier schedule because 12 of the 16 games are the same opponents and the other two are against each other. It is as simple as that.

The goal is to win the division each year. That's why certain players are drafted. Mario Williams was drafted with the top overall pick by the Texans for the core reason of harassing Peyton Manning of the Colts, the division rival.

The playoff system needs to stay the same because I don't see the NFC West being as bad as they are now for a long period of time. One team should have a winning record next year.

Qwest Stadium Is One Of The Absolute Best Homefield Advantages In The NFL: How important is homefield advantage? It depends on the stadium, and Qwest Stadium is definitely a top three place since opening in September of 2002.

The Seahawks have had 72 regular season and six playoff games in Qwest Stadium. They have gone 51-21 in the regular season and 5-1 in the postseason. Opponents average two false start penalties per game at Qwest Stadium due to the fact that the fans are very loud, and the way the stadium is structured makes the sound bounce off the walls onto the stands and field.

Of course, they shut up when Seattle is on offense, but opposing offenses cannot operate as well with all the noise around them. The year the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl was when they gained homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Did the stadium play a factor in the win against the Saints? Possibly, but the Saints still scored 36 points, so I'm just going to say the Seahawks played better.

The Saints Defense Needs Adjusting: The Saints defense is what let them down in this game. I don't think there is anyone who could deny that. 41 points against an offense that was even in the top 20 in scoring is just unacceptable. The Saints did have some injuries that limited them, but it wasn't like the third string was starting.

The Saints under Sean Payton have always had amazing offense. Payton's playbook has helped Drew Brees set NFL passing records and had him pass the 5,000 yard passing mark in a single season. What the Saints were missing was defense. They could score 42 points and the opponent could score 45. Can't win that way.

In 2009, the Saints hired Gregg Williams, and he helped turn the Saints defense around. They weren't a defense where you would only score 14 points, but they could slow teams down and force turnovers. Get enough turnovers and an offense like the Saints will just outscore opponents. They had seven scores on defense, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries during the regular season.

You can't expect a defense to do that constantly every year. You just can't. The Saints could not do what they did in 2009 this year, and that's why they lost. They need to address some defensive flaws in the draft. They got pretty good corners, their backup safeties are a weakness, and probably get another linebacker or defensive lineman.

The Seahawks Are On Their Way To Controlling The NFC West Again: The Seahawks for a good portion of the 2000s were the dominant team of the NFC West. They went to the playoffs five straight years from 2003-2007 and won the division in four of those five years. Mike Holmgren guided them to a Super Bowl berth in 2005 and they lost a controversial game to the Steelers.

So, when Holmgren left in 2009, the franchise was officially in rebuilding mode after a 4-12 season. Two years later, they go back to first place in the division again, and a playoff win over the Saints. The Seahawks have done so many things right to get this far.

They beat their division. Granted, their division is the weakest division by far, they still beat them. They have drafted extremely well. First round draft picks Russell Okung and Earl Thomas filled needs immediately on their team. Earl Thomas is a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year and Okung, when healthy, has been a very good offensive tackle.

Wide receiver Golden Tate has not had the impact he could've had, but his future is still bright. The Seahawks dumped Julius Jones and pick up new running backs in Justin Forsett and make the favorable trade with Buffalo to get Marshawn Lynch.

Mike Williams, a bust of a receiver in Detroit, has come back to have a good season for the Seahawks and leads the team in receiving yards with 751. Another great trade Seattle made was bringing in kick returner, Leon Washington, from the Jets for a fifth-round pick. He's had an incredible return season and accounts for 1,700 yards on special teams with three kickoff return touchdowns.

The Seahawks are a team that still has a lot to do, but if they can improve in the draft and free agency, I see them as favorites to control the NFC West all over again. They are in the best position and best division (best meaning easiest to win) to be in.

I don't think the Seahawks will beat the Bears on Sunday, but I do think they are in a favorable position to end the season on a high note and look to dominate their division next year. The future was supposed to be far away two year ago. Now, it looks like it has already come.


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