Playoffs are a great time for must win teams.
Before the game I wrote that the Seahawks won every must win game they faced this season. NO lost 2 of their must win games. I predicted that the team that does not lose must win games will prevail over the team that does.. They did.
I also mentioned that this mentality is obvious during games just as it is when viewing the whole season. A young team is more susceptible to those mental swings during a game and will treat must win drives and plays accordingly.
Here are the must win effects at work during yesterdays game –
Being a defense and run first team playing in hard weather conditions the goals starting the game were imposeing your will on defense, get the run game going and be careful with the ball.
Every drive was a must win drive.
The defense held the Saints scoreless and almost yardless during the first half. The offense established the run game, was careful with the ball and scored on all first 3 possessions.
Leading 13-0 and later 16-0 to end the first half had its effects. When you lead by more then 2 scores and hold the other team to zero points on defense – must win every drive begins to waver.
Starting the 2nd half the offense became even more conservative then they already were. Safe play after safe play. 3 and out? No worries, NO has yet to demonstrate they can score at all.
AT the end of the 3rd quarter NO started to move the ball effectively in the air. Brees found how to pass with his gloves and the secondary was losing their dogged determination especially on the left side of the field. That's the catch of leading. No play or drive are must win anymore.
2 minutes into the 4th quarter NO scored and it was a 16-8 game. The must win was back on. The defense held NO to just one impossible field goal attempt (49 yards against the wind). The offense felt that with NO moving the ball effectively the must win lands on their shoulders. A long drive and a touchdown were in order. A long drive and a touchdown is what they provided. Must win drives are must win drives after all.
Leading 23-8 with a few minutes on the clock was the signal that the must win game was in the bag and must win drives are no longer the call of the day. Yes, NO drove down the field and scored with the defense making sure it takes just enough time to make a comeback impossible. It was over.
A more seasoned team might have gone for the jugular and blown the game earlier. This Seahawks team is not a seasoned contender yet. What they are since the Houston game is a team that knows they can win. They believe they will win. They do what is needed to win and they have only 2 more games to win. They will win them. They may win ugly (most likely), they may win nice but win they will.
When you look at 9 out of 18 completions for 103 yards or 5-14 3rd down conversion for just 13 first downs remember that those are all it took to win. If you must find a must win stat it may be found on the must win plays. Until late in the 4th when it was 23-8 the Saints failed to convert every 4th down attempt. Those are the must win plays that a must win team will win.
6 days to the next game. I'm so glad it's a must win game again.