Final

Saints 36

(11-5, 6-2 away)

Seahawks 41

(7-9, 5-3 home)

Coverage: NBC

4:30 PM ET, January 8, 2011

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 10 10 0 1636
SEA 7 17 10 741

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 404 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: M. Lynch (SEA) - 19 CAR, 131 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Henderson (NO) - 7 REC, 77 YDS, 1 TD

Matt Hasselbeck throws four TDs as Seahawks stun Saints

Associated Press

SEATTLE -- In a scene straight out of college, Pete Carroll stood in the middle of a pile on the midfield logo, jumping up and down with his players celebrating in unison.

The labels stuck on the seven-win Seattle Seahawks -- jokes, lightweights, laughingstocks -- no longer fit Saturday.

That's when Carroll's rowdy crew sent the defending Super Bowl champions packing, pulling one of the most unlikely upsets in playoff history, a 41-36 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Who Dat moving on in the NFC playoffs? It's the Seahawks.

"It didn't matter what I said to them, or what was said outside, and all of the story lines and all that, they just did not buy it," Carroll said. "Where that came from? If I knew that, we'd have something special here. It came out of an attitude and it came out of a faith in one another."

Matt Hasselbeck threw four touchdown passes and Marshawn Lynch scored on an electrifying 67-yard run with 3:22 left to clinch the first playoff victory by a losing team.

The Seahawks (8-9) held a 34-20 early in the fourth quarter before Drew Brees looked ready to lead the Saints (11-6) on one of their patented comebacks. But Lynch broke a half-dozen tackles for his TD and a few anxious minutes later, the party was on at Qwest Field, the NFL's loudest stadium.

Seattle, the first division winner with a losing record, will play next weekend, either at top-seeded Atlanta or No. 2 Chicago.

It's a trip no one outside Seattle's locker room expected to happen.

"I assume people are going to say it was more about what the Saints didn't do and not what we did, or that the Saints lost the game, not us winning it," Seattle wide receiver Mike Williams said. "Whatever is said it doesn't matter. What matters is the direction our team is in and the focus the guys have in the locker room."

Seattle didn't just beat the defending champions. They outgunned and outscored Brees, energizing a crowd that just a week wasn't sure who the quarterback should be.

Last Sunday, Hasselbeck watched as backup Charlie Whitehurst led the Seahawks to the NFC West title with a win over St. Louis. Hasselbeck was only cleared to go as the starter Thursday and even had fluid drained from his hip.

Hasselbeck rallied Seattle from 10-0 and 17-7 deficits, putting together a 24-3 run in the second and third quarters as the Seahawks surged ahead.

Hasselbeck threw a pair of touchdowns to tight end John Carlson -- who had one TD during the regular season. He found Brandon Stokley on a 45-yard TD late in the second quarter, then found Williams for 38 yards on the first drive of the second half to give Seattle a 31-20 lead.

Hasselbeck threw for 272 yards and the four TD set a playoff career high. It was quite a show by Hasselbeck, whose contract expires after the season. He walked off the field to a rousing ovation with his son propped on his shoulders.

"It wasn't just one thing, it felt like everyone did a little something to help us get the win," Hasselbeck said. "It was just an awesome feeling."

But for all Hasselbeck did, the lasting image of this stunner will be Lynch's run that clinched the victory.

Lynch provided a run that'll be replayed in the Pacific Northwest for years. He took a second-down carry with less than four minutes to go and then the highlights began. He broke six tackles on his long run as eight different Saints' got hands on Lynch, and also tossed in a massive stiff arm that sent cornerback Tracy Porter to the turf to complete the longest scoring run of his career.

Hasselbeck said if that play gets 4 yards "you're patting yourself on the back." Lynch finished with 131 yards on 19 carries, the first Seattle back to top 100 yards all season.

"That was the most unbelievable, unrealistic play I've ever seen in the history of football," Seattle linebacker Aaron Curry said. "It was just unreal. It seems just like a routine football play, then he takes it to another level."

Hasselbeck, Lynch and a strong performance by Seattle's offense extended the Saints franchise misery to 0-4 in road playoff games.

The Saints were considered the second-best team in the conference behind the NFC South-winning Falcons. Even though they lost to Tampa Bay in the season finale a week ago and were without running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, safety Malcolm Jenkins and linebacker Danny Clark, the Saints were favored by 10 points to advance.

Now they go home.

"It's not fun," Saints cornerback Jabari Greer said.

Brees, who completed a playoff-record 39 passes in 60 attempts for 404 yards and two TDs, still couldn't match Hasselbeck and the Seahawks offense. Brees led one final drive, hitting Devery Henderson on a 6-yard touchdown with 1:30 left to get within 41-36.

But DeShawn Wynn was stopped on the 2-point conversion, Garrett Hartley's onside kick was recovered by Carlson and the Seahawks were left to celebrate.

"It's disappointing. It starts with us and myself and the rest of the coaches," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I thought they had effort but in the end, not enough to win this game. It's disappointing to get in the postseason and finish with a loss to start."

Reggie Bush finished with five carries for 12 yards, caught five passes and did not play in the fourth quarter. Bush said he was hit near where he broke his leg earlier in the season, but X-rays were negative.

Julius Jones, cut by Seattle earlier in the season, ran for two short touchdowns and finished with 120 all-purpose yards, but was "dinged" in a collision with Lofa Tatupu in the fourth quarter that left Tatupu with a concussion.

In the second half, Brees all but abandoned the run, throwing on 33 of the Saints' 41 plays, as he tried to rally the Saints from a two-touchdown deficit. Jones' 4-yard touchdown run with 13:11 left pulled the Saints within 34-27, but they had to settle for Hartley's 21-yard field goal on the next drive after Henderson was tackled short on a third-down pass at the Seattle 4.

Seattle got a first down on its next drive when Hasselbeck hit Stokley for 12 yards, but Hasselbeck was sacked by Scott Shanle on second down and Seattle was forced to punt with under six minutes remaining. The 52-yard punt by Jon Ryan, plus a penalty on the return, backed the Saints to their own 6 with 5:36 left.

Brees couldn't convert on third-and-8 at his 19 and the Saints punted with 4:29 left and just one timeout. Lynch's run then gave Seattle an 11-point lead, a big enough advantage that one last Brees rally couldn't top.

"The underdog role, I think we cherished it and kind of took it to heart," Seattle's Marcus Trufant said. "Nobody gave us a chance and we just kind of shrugged our shoulder. We knew we were going to come out and play our ball."

Game notes


Seattle WR Ben Obomanu dislocated his right shoulder in the first quarter, but after getting examined, returned to the game. He caught five passes for 43 yards. ... The Saints last playoff road game was the 2006 NFC championship, a 39-14 loss at Chicago. ... Seattle has won its last five playoff games at Qwest Field.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NO
SEA
1st Downs3219
Passing 1st downs
2213
Rushing 1st downs
74
1st downs from Penalties
32
3rd down efficiency
6-136-14
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays8361
Total Yards474415
Yards per play5.76.8
Total Drives1413
Passing397265
Comp - Att
39-6022-35
Yards per pass
6.67.6
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks - Yards Lost
1-72-7
Rushing77150
Rushing Attempts
2224
Yards per rush
3.56.3
Red Zone (Made-Att)4-72-3
Penalties7-396-39
Turnovers11
Fumbles lost
10
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession32:0127:59

Passing Leaders

NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees39/604046.7201-7
SEAC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Hasselbeck22/352727.8411-6

Rushing Leaders

NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jones15593.9215
Bush5122.404
SEACARYDSAVGTDLG
Lynch191316.9167
Forsett4205.007

Receiving Leaders

NORECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Henderson77711.01408
Colston46616.50308
SEARECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Stokley47318.31454
Williams56813.61388

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNOSEA
noFG11:43Garrett Hartley 26 Yd 30
noTD06:21Heath Evans 1 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 100
seaTD03:38John Carlson 11 Yd Pass From Matt Hasselbeck (Olindo Mare Kick) 107
SECOND QUARTERNOSEA
noTD13:38Julius Jones 5 Yd Run (Garrett Hartley Kick) 177
seaTD11:00John Carlson 7 Yd Pass From Matt Hasselbeck (Olindo Mare Kick) 1714
seaFG07:03Olindo Mare 29 Yd 1717
seaTD01:15Brandon Stokley 45 Yd Pass From Matt Hasselbeck (Olindo Mare Kick) 1724
noFG00:00Garrett Hartley 22 Yd 2024
THIRD QUARTERNOSEA
seaTD11:48Mike Williams 38 Yd Pass From Matt Hasselbeck (Olindo Mare Kick) 2031
seaFG05:27Olindo Mare 39 Yd 2034
FOURTH QUARTERNOSEA
noTD13:11Julius Jones 4 Yd Run (Garrett Hartley Kick) 2734
noFG09:13Garrett Hartley 21 Yd 3034
seaTD03:22Marshawn Lynch 67 Yd Run (Olindo Mare Kick) 3041
noTD01:30Devery Henderson 6 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Two-Point Run Conversion Failed) 3641

Research Notes

NEXT-LEVEL: Drew Brees was 6-for-6 on his first six play-action attempts, throwing for 56 yards, a touchdown and five first downs. On his next eight attempts though, Brees went 5-for-8, picking up just 20 yards and one first down. All three incompletions were broken up by Seahawk defenders.
NEXT-LEVEL: Matt Hasselbeck had a passer rating of 55.9 on play-action passes during the regular season, worst among postseason starting quarterbacks and third-worst overall (min. 50 attempts). Hasselbeck was 6-6 for 48 yards and two touchdowns when using the play-fake against the Saints on Saturday (139.6 rating).
NEXT-LEVEL: The Seahawks rushed five or more players on just five of Drew Brees' 62 dropbacks, or 8.1 percent of the time. No team in the regular season rushed five or more less frequently in a game than the Seahawks did in the Wild Card round. Brees was 4-for-5 for 45 yards and a touchdown when the Seahawks did rush five or more.

LynchMarshawn Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run was the longest in Seahawks postseason history, breaking Mack Strong's record.

  [+]
From Elias: Since 2005, the NFC West is a combined 9-5 (thank you Cardinals and Seahawks) and has won at least one game each postseason. It's collective .643 win pct is the best divisional postseason record in the NFL during that span.
  [+]
Prior to Saturday's game, Pete Carroll had coached 3 postseason games, all with the Patriots - going 1-2. In those 3 games combined with the Patriots, Carroll's teams scored a total of 33 points while giving up 35. Saturday, both those numbers were topped in a single game.
  [+]
The Seahawks were the 5th team since 1978 to make the playoffs with a point differential of minus-50 or worse. ALL FIVE WON THEIR OPENING ROUND PLAYOFF GAME. Bad news for Seahawks fans...none of those teams went on to win in the Divisional round.
  [+]
Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard TD run is the 4th-longest rush TD in the 4th quarter or OT in a playoff game in the post-merger era (since 1970).
  [+]
The 24 points scored by the Seahawks in the first half in the most the team has scored in the first half in a playoff game. The previous high was 20 points on Jan. 22, 2006 vs the Panthers (won the game 34-14).
John Carlson has two rec TD after just one Rec TD all season. Carlson is just the third player in Seahawks franchise history with multiple receiving TD in a playoff game. He joins Jerramy Stevens (2007 vs Dallas) and Steve Largent (1988 vs Houston).
Drew Brees' 1-yard TD pass to Heath Evans was on first down and goal. This is a familiar play for Brees, who had 14 TD passes in goal-to-go situations during the regular season, tied for 3rd-most in the NFL.

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