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Julius Jones as Abraham Lincoln

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Will Herring plays a one-hand piano ballad entitled "Almost."
Will Herring plays a one-hand piano ballad entitled "Almost."

The Seahawks had battled back to within three. Following the Saints next drive, New Orleans would again achieve 81% win probability. Falling behind by ten and clawing back to win takes heart. Falling behind by ten twice and clawing back to win takes balls.The Seahawks were never supposed to win, much less overcome two two-score deficits. I guess no one told them.

1-10-NO 17 (3:34) 9-D.Brees pass short middle to 12-M.Colston to NO 20 for 3 yards (51-L.Tatupu). PENALTY on SEA-57-D.Hawthorne, Illegal Contact, 5 yards, enforced at NO 17 - No Play.

This penalty is not visible from the broadcast and NBC does not show it on replay.

So there you go.

We assume it happened. Tsk, David Hawthorne. Tsk.

Lofa Tatupu does a good job of closing on Marques Colston and attempting a strip. Had Hawthorne not committed a foul, this would have been a good start to the drive by the Seahawks defense.

1-10-NO 22 (3:14) 9-D.Brees pass short right to 12-M.Colston pushed ob at NO 33 for 11 yards (29-E.Thomas).

This is a confusing play for a fan to figure. Drew Brees motions play action and then rolls left. Colston runs a little hitch in the right flat. Marcus Trufant starts opposite Colston but runs off screen. Maybe Devery Henderson, working out of the right slot, runs him deep, but that seems queer. At the same time, Earl Thomas starts over Henderson, stays square with Henderson's route and presumably follows him deep, but it's Thomas that closes on Colston and forces him out of bounds. Tru finally appears on screen, trailing Thomas.

On the replay, we see the mistake: Tru drops into a cover three. Thomas is supposed to cover the right flat. He doesn't.

I think I speak for every Seahawks fan when I say, such mistakes are not tolerable from a rookie, 21-year old, Pro Bowl alternate safety. Brian Russell would have been in perfect position to take a crappy angle, miss the tackle, jump on the pile (at the Seahawks 2) and concuss Trufant in the process. Talent without grit is nothing, Bad Bones.

1-10-NO 33 (2:42) (Shotgun) 64-Z.Strief reported in as eligible. 25-R.Bush right tackle to NO 37 for 4 yards (93-C.Terrill).

Inside zone, right. Craig Terrill explodes past Jermon Bushrod's outside shoulder. Reggie Bush runs right. Bushrod recovers to force Terrill back but loses him almost immediately.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks strong side has effectively held ground. Cole has survived a Goodwin-Evans double team. Curry pursues Bush in space, cuts off the outside, but then is caught by Evans. Evans has peeled off his double team, but that springs Cole. Cole works through Goodwin and contains the interior.

Bush's horizontal yardage affords Terrill time to recover, and he runs down Bush from behind after four. Actually, Terrill contacts Bush after about one, but the force of his tackle supplies the additional three. Which I remember kind of pissing me off at the time. Not to say Terrill did anything wrong. Just--what the hell?

2-6-NO 37 (2:10) 9-D.Brees pass short right to 12-M.Colston to NO 49 for 12 yards (59-A.Curry).

Colston curls under the cover 3 and finds a little soft spot in front of Trufant and to Curry's left. Brees stares down Colston pretty bad, but Curry is slow to react. Someday soon I hope Curry is able to jump a pattern like this. Better positioning, better awareness and anticipation, and Curry could have undercut this and taken it to the house. Lest we forget, Curry flashed 4.52 speed at the NFL Combine.

Instead, Curry closes, tackles high; Colston spins through Curry's tackle, braces for a shot from Marcus Trufant, again spins through Curry's tackle while simultaneously evading Trufant, this time dropping Curry, but losing his balance in the process. He stumbles down after twelve. Awarding a tackle is kind of perfunctory. Curry's action initiates the stumble, but it's only a tackle in the broadest sense.

1-10-NO 49 (1:39) 21-J.Jones left end to SEA 36 for 15 yards (36-L.Milloy).

Julius Jones runs around left end. Bushrod blocks Clemons. Clemons attempts to separate from Bushrod and is held.

Both guards fire forward. Nicks blocks Tatupu. Evans chases Hawthorne, but Hawthorne evades and shadows the play. Evans catches up with Hawthorne and holds him.

Curry drops into the left flat. He shadows wide, perhaps containing the outside edge, and lead blocker David Thomas has to angle out to block him. I don't want to pile on, so I'll just say that I am not sure what Curry was doing, exactly. He didn't have to close on Jones, or attempt to meet Thomas and power him back, but containing the outside from outside the numbers seems like a strange decision. It certainly didn't pay off.

Tatupu closes on Jones. He is then blocked in the back by Nicks. That follows an earlier hold. All that holding and blocking in the back creates a huge rush lane up the left sideline. Jones explodes forward with only Kelly Jennings and Lawyer Milloy to beat.

Except, ah ha! Heater hooks Jones's right arm and sends him spinning into the arms of Jennings and then Milloy.

Not to say it takes three holds and a block in the back for Julius Jones to turn the corner, but it took three holds and a block in the back for Julius Jones to turn the corner.

1-10-SEA 36 (:58) 9-D.Brees pass short right to 17-R.Meachem to SEA 25 for 11 yards (36-L.Milloy, 23-M.Trufant).

Robert Meachem runs from right slot and curls just outside the right hash mark. Three Seahawks are more or less equidistant from Meachem, but each is five or so yards away. I can usually spot a coverage, but I'm not sure what Seattle is running. Something that didn't work, apparently.

1-10-SEA 25 (:19) 64-Z.Strief reported in as eligible. PENALTY on NO-64-Z.Strief, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 25 - No Play.

Mebane assists the referees with a critical jump and point. "Him! Him! Him!"

1-15-SEA 30 (:01) (Shotgun) 9-D.Brees pass incomplete deep middle to 88-J.Shockey.

Seahawks send Heater off left end. Heater pressures the blind side. Brock and Terrill pressure the front side edge. It's a nice little blitz and gets Brees a-shufflin'. Brock turns the corner, Hawthorne evades a block by Jones and maybe most importantly, Clemons and Mebane create some kind of interior pressure. Brees can only step up slightly before being struck by Hawthorne.

The pass sails over Jeremy Shockey, incomplete. Shockey was behind Tatupu and Curry and in front of Thomas. It would have been an easy reception and one broken or evaded tackle from the end zone.

Huzzah! Pressure.

2-15-SEA 30 (15:00) 9-D.Brees pass deep middle to 88-J.Shockey to SEA 11 for 19 yards (29-E.Thomas).

Shockey runs a post from right tight end. Curry is initially in coverage but passes Shockey on. Tatupu keys on Jones running a curl out of the back field. Shockey settles into the soft spot under Thomas and over Curry and Tatupu, perhaps exploiting the weakness found in the previous play. Thomas closes and tackles, limiting the damage.

Does Curry blow coverage? I don't know. Tatupu might actually be at fault. He breaks towards Jones with the ball in the air, though the pass is clearly not targeting Jones. He could have dropped deeper and perhaps gotten into the throwing lane. We'll just have to settle for blaming "hole in zone."

The reception converts the first and puts the Saints on the Seattle 11.

1-10-SEA 11 (14:27) 25-R.Bush right end pushed ob at SEA 8 for 3 yards (57-D.Hawthorne).

Kentwan Balmer controls the strong side edge, sheds Stinchcomb and forces Bush wide. Heater fights through Thomas's block and Heater and Tru combine to wrap Bush and force him out after three.

2-7-SEA 8 (14:05) 21-J.Jones left guard to SEA 5 for 3 yards (90-C.Cole; 92-B.Mebane).

Mebane knocks Stinchcomb back, shadows towards the hole and disengages and hooks Jones. Cole does similarly with center Jonathan Goodwin. He doesn't get the push, but doesn't get pushed and disengages to wrap Jones high. The two combine for the tackle.

Saints call a timeout. I imagine they considered that running against the strong side didn't work, running against the middle didn't work, and third and four from the five is sort of no man's land.

What to do? What to do?

3-4-SEA 5 (13:42) 21-J.Jones left tackle for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Saints set: WR (left), 2 WR (right (Bush in the slot), tight end (left), RB.

Seahawks: 4-2 nickel (Clemons and Brock man the ends)

The 4-2 is set with an interesting alignment. Clemons is playing seven-tech opposite offensive left. Brock is playing five-tech. Curry is playing a three-tech opposite offensive right. Mebane is playing a one-tech.  That means there's are two gaps unmanned by a lineman between Clemons and Mebane. Over and between Mebane and Clemons is, from offensive left to right, Lawyer Milloy, Will Herring and Lofa Tatupu. It looks like the Seahawks are anticipating pass.

Milloy drops out towards the left corner of the end zone. That proves disastrous. Clemons runs around Shockey and is pushed out of the play for good by a shadowing Bushrod. Mebane handles the double, isolates on Nicks after Goodwin pulls forward and shades towards Jones, forcing Jones to angle slightly wide left and towards Herring. Shockey blocks Herring. Thomas's back screens Tatupu out of the play. Herring separates, hooks Jones, wraps, but Jones falls forward into the end zone for the score.

Milloy doesn't retreat and he's there to join the tackle and stop Jones. I assume he was just doing as asked, though. Too bad.

Saints pull ahead 17-7.