By John Boyle
The last time the Seahawks hosted New Orleans, they trounced the Saints 34-7 at CenturyLink Field. And seeing as that game took place just a little over a month ago, we can assume a similar result when the teams meet Saturday in the divisional round of the playoffs, right?
Wrong, says Pete Carroll, who will spend this week making sure his team doesn’t expect last month’s result to carry over to this meeting.
“We start all over again,” Carroll said Monday. “It has nothing to do with what happened before. We’ve learned and we’ve gained information, as they did, but we start all over again, we start from scratch. We take a look at what’s happened since we played them, and we compare the buildup of what they had done coming into are game, what did they do, then what’s happened since then. But I think it would be a mistake to try to call it because of what’s happened in the past and all that, we don’t care about that.”
And Carroll knows he can’t just assume his players will have the right mindset without a few reminders.
“There’s no automatics here, they’re going to hear about it,” he said. “It’s just common knowledge in human nature that you’d like to think it’s going to be the same, but we know better than that, so we need to respect this opportunity for what it is. It’s a great championship matchup for us, and they’re going to come loaded up and give us a great football game.”
Carroll noted that the version of the Saints they see Sunday will be a little different, and if Saturday’s win in Philadelphia was any indication, New Orleans may try to run the ball more.
“They run the ball a little bit more, on the road they have and their numbers are up in that regard, that’s a little bit of a change,” he said. “It looks like on the road they’ve wanted to run the ball a little bit more if add ‘em up, but other than that they’re just functioning like a really good group. They’re really physical up front on defense, and a very tough-minded group on that side of the ball. It poses a big challenge for us.”
And while no Seahawks players or coaches would every admit to having a preference on who they host this week, Carroll did say there was an advantage to knowing his team’s next opponent a day earlier. Had New Orleans lost Saturday night, then Seattle would have hosted the Green Bay vs. San Francisco winner, meaning the Seahawks wouldn’t have known they’d be playing the 49ers until late Sunday afternoon. Instead they had a 20-hour head start on building a game plan.
“Yeah, it was hours of difference<" Carroll said. "We would have known at 4, 5 o’clock yesterday otherwise, so in that regard it helps us that they won and we got to jump into the plan.”