Ten Best Crucial Plays of 2010 #6 - The Upset Plot Thickens

SEATTLE WA - JANUARY 08: Brandon Stokley #15 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after his 45-yard touchdown catch late in the second 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 Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Wild Card Round vs. Saints

 

2nd Quarter 1:23 3rd and 3 at NO 45 (Shotgun) M.Hasselbeck pass deep left to B.Stokley for 45 yards, TOUCHDOWN

WP Before Play: 45%

WP After Play: 62%

Total WP Swing:  +17%

 

This was a game where the Seahawks were historical underdogs.  The first-ever team to make the playoffs with a losing record, versus the defending Super Bowl champions?  On paper, it was a laughable matchup.  By all rights, Seattle should have been blown out without mercy, and crawled back into their shoebox of mainstream anonymity.

But they didn't choose that route.  Despite being one of the worst teams in the league my many statistical measures, despite incredible odds against them, the Seahawks fought the Saints.  They fought with scratching, eye-gouging, ball-kicking strategies to cover up their lack of talent, but they fought nonetheless.  With this one pass play, they officially silenced the critics and proved that they could hang with the big boys, if for just one week.

Seattle lines up with three WRs bunched to the left side--Ben Obomanu, Mike Williams and Brandon Stokley.  The Saints respond by lining up most of their secondary on the left side.

Snap.  Obo runs a short route to the left flat, and stops.  BMW runs a simple curl five yards out.  These are pretty easy routes to throw to on a short 1st down conversion, but Matt has his eyes set on bigger sights.  Stokley runs in the left slot almost on a straight line, with a couple of zone defenders chasing him.  Matt, with plenty of time in the pocket thanks to the O-line, steps up and delivers a perfect spiral to Stokley in stride about 20 yards downfield.  He hugs the ball without breaking stride, and reaches the endzone with little effort.

With so little time left before halftime, this sudden scoring play gave the Seahawks a huge advantage heading out of the locker room.  A tie game suddenly turned into a seven-point lead going into halftime.  Of a playoff game where they were huge underdogs, no less.

This play was huge.

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