The New Orleans Saints, hoping to defend their Super Bowl title, headed to the Northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks and there was hardly anyone that felt that the Saints would fall in this game. They had beaten the Seahawks soundly earlier this season and the Saints had one of the best passing offenses in the league, so how could Seattle have a chance?
Well they had a chance. They were playing at home, had the crowd on their side and the Saints rushing attack had been damaged by injuries and, in what ended up being a shootout, the Saints came out on the losing end of it all and lost the game 41-36.
The Saints are eliminated from playoff contention while the Seahawks move on to play either the Chicago Bears or Atlanta Falcons.
Let’s take a look at the game in this in-depth review of the Saints final contest of the season.
The Saints got the first score of the game when kicker Garrett Hartley kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Saints up 3-0 early in the game. They would go up 10-0 after a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees to fullback Heath Evans.
The Seahawks would get on the board after quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hit tight end John Carlson on an 11-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-7 still in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, New Orleans running back Julius Jones rushed from five yards out to put the Saints up 17-7 in the second quarter.
The Seahawks added another touchdown when Hasselbeck hit Carlson once again, this time for seven yards, to make it 17-14.
The Seahawks would tie the game up when kicker Olindo Mare booted a 29-yard field goal to make it 17-17 in the second quarter. Seattle would then take the lead after Hasselbeck hit wide receiver Brandon Stokley for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Seahawks ahead 24-17.
Hartley would get the final score of the first half when he kicked a 22-yard field goal making it 24-20 heading in at the half.
The Seahawks would build on their lead in the third quarter after a 38-yard pass from Hasselbeck to wide receiver Mike Williams to put Seattle up 31-20. Seattle would add a Mare field goal to pad their lead and make it 34-20.
The Saints would start to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter and it started with a four-yard Jones touchdown run to make it 34-27. The Saints would add a 21-yard field goal (by Hartley) to make it 34-30 drawing them closer to the Seahawks.
The backbreaker came when Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch broke several tackles on his way to the end zone on a 67-yard touchdown run to basically put the game out of reach. The score was 41-30 at that point.
New Orleans would get the last score of the game when Brees hooked up with wide receiver Devery Henderson on a six-yard touchdown pass to make it 41-36 (the two-point conversion failed). That is how the game would end.
Stud of the Game
Brees tried to do everything that he could to win this game but didn’t get the help from other units on the team. The problems with the rushing attack (including Reggie Bush’s exit in the game) didn’t help the passing game at all and they just couldn’t do it all through the air.
Dud of the Game
The defensive effort on that long tackle breaking run by Lynch was really poor and had they been able to stop Lynch and then held the Seahawks at that point they may have been able to win the game. It was a poor defensive effort on that and at other points throughout the game.
Not too many people gave the Seahawks a chance at winning this game and by all accounts they shouldn’t have. The Saints came into the game the better team and the team with a lot to play for but on this day, the Seahawks ended up being the better team and now they advance while the Saints head back home.
The Saints went into this game without two of their key running backs in Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory. They relied on Bush and Jones and Jones didn’t do too bad in short yardage situations (at the goal line for his two touchdowns) but outside the 20’s the running game struggled.
The defense didn’t do their share of things in this game and that hurt the Saints more than anything. They allowed Hasselbeck to complete passes without much pressure and allowed the Seahawks running game to control the tempo and pace of the game. If the defense would have been able to put up a stronger effort the Saints would have probably won this game.
The conditions didn’t favor the Saints either as the weather was cold and the crowd was loud as ever. While these conditions didn’t play a big part in the loss, they may have had a little something to do with the way that the Saints played. It was definitely a factor.
The Saints will head back home and get ready for what will be an offseason of improvement without so much drastic change. They need some help in a few areas and will work hard on taking care of that during the offseason.