Seahawks beat Saints to advance to NFC Championship Game

Harry How

The Seahawks failed to recover an onside kick late in the game, giving the ball back to the Saints with 24 seconds remaining and down 8, which gave everyone in the Seattle area a collective heart attack. Nonetheless, they hung on to win a sloppy, rain-drenched, wind-swept defensive battle over the Saints, 23-15. Seattle will face the winner of tomorrow's 49ers-Panthers game in the NFC Championship next week at CenturyLink field.

A few notes:

- Russell Wilson and the Seahawks pass game struggled badly, particularly after Percy Harvin left the game with a concussion just prior to the half. Wilson finished 9-of-18 for 103 yards, and similar to the Arizona loss, the playcalling seemed very two-dimensional and predictable. Wilson also threw behind his receiver on at least two slants and was generally out of sync and out of rhythm the whole day. The Hawks finished 5-of-14 on 3rd down, had 13 first downs to the Saints' 25, and finished with 277 total yards to New Orleans' 409.

- Thankfully, the run game functioned well with new starter Michael Bowie at left guard. The Hawks ran the ball 35 times for 174 yards and 5.0 yards per attempt, and Marshawn Lynch's 31 yard scamper for a touchdown with 2:48 left essentially sealed the deal. Lynch was, by far, the MVP of this game.

- As ESPN Stats and Info points out, in the Playoffs since 1990, only Terrell Davis & Thurman Thomas have more 130+ yard postseason rushing games than Lynch (3).

- The defense played very well in the first half, holding Drew Brees to 34 passing yards over the first two frames, but obviously weren't as tight in the second half as he finished with over 300. Pete Carroll mentioned that he was upset with how the team tackled, and Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas both dropped easy interceptions in the fourth quarter, both of which would've obviously been daggers for the Saints (not to mention a forced fumble that was overruled). Instead, New Orleans hung around, and put themselves in a position to possibly tie the game with under a minute left. Stressful.

More analysis coming soon, and Seattle definitely has some things to work on, obviously, but at the end of the day, a win's a win. My dad was texting me after the game, and he brought up an interview he'd heard with a former NFL player. That player was talking about how the Playoffs are much more about not making mistakes on offense, letting the defense win, and letting field position carry the day. As Dr. Kelly pointed out, Wilson made enough plays to win - that dime to Doug Baldwin down the sideline the biggest, and made no big mistakes.

Winning formula for that type of game. Run the ball. Stop the run. Win the turnover battle. Won all three. Winning formula, especially in crappy weather. Fair.

Seattle will face either the Niners or Panthers next week for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I'll take it.

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