Saturday, January 8, 2011

Seahawks vs. Saints Diary: Do You Believe In Mediocrities?

With Seahawks K Orlando Mare kicking the ball out of bounds, this game was on blowout alert from the start. QB Drew Brees picked up a nice touch ball to WR Marques Colston to reach the red zone, but on third and two, RB Reggie Bush dropped an easy cross instead of converting the first. K Garrett Hartley hits from 25, and I guess we've still got a game. Saints 3, Seahawks 0 after three minutes.

The Saints get tricky on the kickoff, as RB Justin Forsett calls for a fair catch; I didn't know you could do that. New Orleans isn't going to let KR Leon Washington beat them. Seattle came out with a quick pace, odd for an underdog. On third and one, the home team's lack of confidence in the running game is very obvious, as they run a rollout route even without play action. Had the ball been completed, it would have not made the first, but instead, it was picked. There is nothing so far that suggests this will be a game in the second half.

Short passes, runs and a defensive offsides get the Saints closer. Just to show how this is going for the home team, Brees fumbles a snap, but RB Julius Jones picks it up and gets a couple. On third and 8, they go with a screen to Bush, who makes the yardage; the Saints are clearly taking advantage of the Seahawks trying to get pressure on Brees early. Smart. Jones with Vengeance! on his old team to the five. On the 3rd and 3, Brees from the gun draws a DPI flag on a throw to WR Lance Moore, and we're a yard away from this one being over. Brees goes to FB Heath Evans, and that's the yard. 10-0 Saints after 8.5 minutes, and the Who Dat chants are plainly audible in a quiet Qwest Field. So much for that 12th man nonsense.

Another pop up kick, but this one gets returned for good position. The Seahawks go to the hurry up again for a first, and the big WRs do some damage. As I explain the game to my bored five year old, the home team drives the distance and scores. Wow, that's unexpected. Crowd's very alive again, and that's the Saints defense that will kill them next week.

As the quarter ends, the Saints drive again, with Brees sharp and the line giving him time. Any number of places to go, so Brees takes TE Jeremy Shockey for 19 to the red zone. Bush and Jones go to the five, then Jones again for a surprisingly easy score. 83 yard drive to re-establish order, Saints 17, Seahawks 7, and there is no sign that the Saints will be stopped today. Julius Jones Has Had His Revenge!

But in the blink of an eye... a 5 play, 70-yard drive for the home team, with TE John Carlson getting his second touchdown of the day. Yeesh, that was also easy, and Saints Fan, you have no reason to think this is going to last very long in January. Credit where due: Hasselbeck is playing very well since that bad pick. Saints 17, Seahawks 14.

Brees nearly TAInts; wow. False start and a meh draw to Jones, and the momentum rises as Brees misses Colston. A three and out, and we really do have a game. Seattle dodges a questionable flag as the punter gets hammered.

A three and out as the Saint defensive coverage stiffens. Meh punt, and the Saints get it back with nine minutes left.,.. and Jones puts it on the ground for a red zone turnover. Julius Jones Has Has His Comeuppance!

RB Marshawn Lynch with some movement. On thid and two from the 10, the RB is crushed on an odd call, and it's figgie time. Mare hits from 29, and we're 37 minutes from overtime. Seahawks 17, Saints 17.

Surprisingly even game by the numbers. The Saints short passing game isn't impressing anyone right now, and on third and five from the gun, Brees gets sacked by DE Raheem Brock, the pride of Temple and a long-time Colts veteran that was once drafted by the Eagles, but not signed due to a cap problem. Quite a career for that guy, and the second straight three and out for the defense. Morstead, the Saints punter, shakes off the earlier hit for a good punt.

A dangerous tipped ball and a well played screen set up third and long for Seattle, but the slant is blown for an easy conversion. Forsett gets a third and one -- odd choice for a short yardage guy, but it worked. With 80 seconds left in the half, WR Brandon Stokeley takes advantage of a blown coverage for a 45-yard TD as Hasselbeck takes an odd fall, and we're in Shocked Mode now. Seahawks 24, Saints 17, 17 straight points for the home team.

Brees with time finds WR Devery Henderson for 40 on a cross. I Hope You Bet The Over. Final timeout for the injury. Brees to Moore for a first and out of bounds. Seattle getting pressure with low man rushes. Colston drops what should have been a first, but Moore is open for 16 on third and 10. Brees spikes it at 30, then takes Bush for five. 25 seconds left. Brees scrambles for the first, then clocks it with 9 seconds left. One shot at the end zone from the gun is batted down, and the Saints have to settle. The Hartley figgie is good. Seahawks 24, Saints 20.

I miss the first five minutes of the third quarter to cook dinner for the kids, then burn my hand on a skillet. I think I'm also starting to come down with my youngest's illness; that will teach me to spend time with the plague-ridden. It goes as well as the first five minutes of the third for the Saints, who fall behind by 11 on a long bomb from Hasselbeck to WR Mike Williams. The road favorites then take a three and out on defensive pressure for a grounding, then a drop by Moore that wouldn't have made the long third down anyway. Washington brings it back to the 45, and we are 25 minutes away from the Falcons having the easiest route to the NFC Championship game in history.

Lynch for nine powerful yards into Saints territory, then he converts it for another first. The Seahawks have been consistently been powering through the first DB on short outs, and WR Golden Tate does it again for five. Obomanu is dropped by DB Tracy Porter for a three yard loss, and when this offense doesn't work, man alive, it's ugly. Third and 8 from the gun halfway through the third is another bit catch for Stokely, who is in no way open, not that it matters. Between Stokely and Hasselbeck, you've never seen so many successful offensive plays where it ends with the man getting medical attention.

Lynch for five after commerce, and the home O-line is winning this battle. Four more on a run that a better back would have gotten the first down with. 21 minutes left and grinding. Third and one is a throw where Obomanu drops a hook; perfect ball by Hasselbeck. Surprised they didn't run it, or go for it, but Mare is good from 39, and the 'dogs are now up by 14. Just plain shocking.

The Saints' next possession sees Jones stopped on a lunge for the stakes with 19 minutes left. Given what their defense has been doing, you have to think they would go for it, and they do, with Brees waving them off at their own 38. The play call is a long developing run to Jones, which is stuffed, and I can't believe that wasn't a QB sneak. Just an awful call and worse execution, and at this point, I kind of want the Saints to lose. They are just too stupid to live.

Two yards for Lynch as the Seahawks try to take the air out of the ball. From the gun, Williams drops an out, and that's a big mistake. Possible last chance time for the Saints defense on third and 8 outside of figgie range, and Hasselbeck's killshot attempt for DPI or a score to Obomanu just misses. Hawk Fan wants DPI, but it's a no call. Mare on to try from 53, but a delay flag makes it 58, and that might be a benefit, since a missed figgie is field position. The punt is caught at the 12, and we're still in doubt. Poor time for the Hawks to remember they are, well, the Hawks.

Jones drops a tipped outlet, and lo, these are not last year's Saints. Second down pass is knocked down by LB Lofa Tatupu. Third from the gun is Bush running to daylight and the sticks, as Tatupu's delayed blitz doesn't do the job. Brees to Moore on painful offense for five. No way either of these teams wins next week. Brees to Mecham for a first down. 16 minutes left. Screen to Jones for five, then a 20-yard hook to Moore, and that's the quarter.

Brees now at over 250 yards for the day, and on a swing pass to Jones that goes nowhere, the Hawks take a late hit from DE Chris Clemons. Dumb moment from the ex-Eagle, who took retribution on TE David Thomas for a free first down. From the Hawk 15, Brees gets Henderson for five with 14 minutes left. Jones through a good hole for a first, and then he does it again for a delayed score. Hartley converts the point after, and it's 34-27 Hawks.

Feeling the momentum, the Saints kick away for once, and cover it well; the Hawks start at their 24. I'm covered with children as the Hawks start their next drive; the eldest has become jealous of the youngest spending Football Time with Dad, so now I've got them both. There's hope for my retirement yet! Hasselbeck with an awkward screen to Lynch that drops incomplete, and the home crowd is anxious. The 50th bubble screen of the day to Obomanu is closed with a vengeance and CB Jabari Greer seperates the ball from the WR. It's ruled incomplete, and third and 10 sees the QB and Williams disconnect on a double move. Ouch, that was Lions-esque. Maybe there still is time for the saints to cover. Moore brings it back to the Saints 44 as the see-saw game continues.

Brees barely escapes Clemons for an incomplete to Jones. Jones for 32 on a screen, through the defense I expected to see all day. The Hawks call time to try to get their defense to stop leaking oil; good luck with that. That sound you heard was the nation's bettors wondering where this has been all day, and Falcons Fan is thinking the jig is up.

From the 23, Brees goes to Mecham for 9 and a clock stoppage. Jones converts the first on a quick snap run. Brees on a rollout to Thomas for five as Bush goes to the locker room with a heavy flow. I keed, I keed. Jones slams forward for two. On third and three from the four with 10 minutes left, Bush goes to Henderson, who dances a bit too much and is stopped at the three. The Saints take a Hartley 21-yard figgie, and it's 34-30. So much for my dreams of a cover.

Haselbeck with 257 yards and 4 TDs today, with a bunch of drops. If I were him, I'd retire after this game, then un-retire for a better team, just so I can quit on them later. Also, there would be cell phone pictures of my junk. But I digress. Washington is pinned on the sidelines by Hartley's kick, but takes it to the 30 anyway. Nine minutes left. Lynch for little. Another drop, and it's 3rd and 8 as Hasselbeck starts spazzing. The Saints call time, and that's not a great moment for them, given how the Hawk body language looked terrible before the snap. Surprisingly competitive game, of course; it's going to do well on the ratings when no one expected it to. From the gun, Hasselbeck finds Stokely again, and that's immense, even if it's just to take two more minutes off the clock.

Lynch for little; neither team really running it well today. Hasselbeck is sacked in a swarm; that will teach them not to throw a bubble screen! Third and 17 is a checkdown to Forsett that doesn't do much, and the Saints will get it back with plenty of time for a game-winning drive by the defending Super Bowl champions. Moore has nowhere to go after a massive punt, and two penalties on the receiving team makes it even worse. The Saints will have to go 94 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

Brees from his goal line takes Jones for 10 on a checkdown. Tatupu limps off with 5:18 left, and that's not helpful for the home dogs. The Saints are down to fourth-string RB DeShawn Wynn, which can't be a good thing, as Jones might have been concussed. Third false start of the day. Brees from the gun can't connect with Henderson; just a bad drop by a guy who, well, has a lot of bad drops. Brees takes Evans, who runs out of bounds for 7 with 4:34 left. From the gun as Noise Happens, Brees takes their second time out, and lo, that's not helpful. From the gun, Brees is pressured, then misses, and the flag is holding. With only one timeout left, the Saints punt, and it's fair caught at their own 33 with 4:20 left.

Two first downs ends this. Lynch for no gain... and then he enters Unstoppable Beast Mode, running through the entire Saints defense for the clinching touchdown. Good God Almighty, that's the play of his life right there, and a 67-yard killshot that you will be seeing for a very long time, really. Six different defenders touched him, but none brought him down, and Greer's career might never recover from the Sith Level-esque Force stiff arm that Lynch gave him. So much for this Saints team being the first in their history to win a road playoff game.

With 3:12 left, Brees is looking very ordinary on first, but an out to Henderson goes for 17 and a clock stop. The QB dances from pressure and tries a deep ball to no purpose. A Favrian flip gets seven to Evans, and a check down to the FB gets a first, but yards for time is not a big help. Brees to Thomas for a nice gain before the two minute warning, but this just seems to be stat padding right now.

Brees is nearly picked by Clemons, then gets 16 to Thomas. He then finds Henderson for the touchdown with 1:52 left, as the Hawks defense reminds us all that they are going to lose by a lot next week. The two point conversion is a run to Wynn -- what? -- and it's stuffed. Another odd play call by Peyton, who is doing his reputation no favors today. The stop means the Saints have to score a touchdown after a successful onside kick, but since these never work when they are expected now... well, this one doesn't either. Hartley goes too far with it, and it's gathered easily. 1:29 left, and this one is over.

Lynch for a solid gain; final Saints timeout. A second carry is stopped for a loss, and third down is a kneel to end the game. One of the most stunning upsets in NFL history is in the books. Wow, wow, wow.

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