By John Boyle Herald Columnist
SEATTLE — On a week when the Seattle Seahawks were supposed to be distracted, when the suspension cloud was supposed to again be hanging over a franchise that has otherwise had so much going well for it, Russell Wilson sent his coach a text.
“The way we practiced this week was I think the best we’ve ever had,” the Seahawks quarterback said.
And in a week that the Seahawks were facing what looks to be their biggest competitor for the NFC crown, a New Orleans Saints team with an offense that could potentially pick on Seattle’s depleted secondary, the Seahawks put together a dominant performance, cementing their status as the team to beat in the NFC with a 34-7 drubbing of the previously 9-2 Saints.
The Seahawks don’t believe much in statement wins, not in the regular season, but to heck with their one-game-at-a-time mentality; that was a statement win.
“We had a blast tonight,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “It was just a great night for the Seahawks and fans, just a really good night. I’m really proud that we came off of the bye so well. I was concerned, you don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but we got great rest and we came out strong and you could tell all night long that we had our legs and guys were flying. All phases played well. … It was just a terrific night. I can’t even point out all of the guys that contributed.”
Yes, it was that kind of night. So many players stood out for the 11-1 Seahawks that Carroll didn’t try to point them out. His quarterback shredded a Saints defense that worried so much about not re-living its Marshawn Lynch nightmare that they failed to, you know, cover receivers running down the field. The defense that, minus two of its top three cornerbacks, might finally be up against its match in one of the league’s top offenses, opened the game by forcing a punt. Then scoring on a fumble, then spending the rest of the night making Drew Brees, a future Hall of Fame quarterback look pedestrian. The Seahawks didn’t build a new game plan to hide cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane, they didn’t have cornerback Richard Sherman spend his evening following Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham. No, they just played their defense, and that was enough to hold Brees to just 147 yards.
“The defense, to hold that quarterback, that coach and that team to that kind of production tonight, that’s an incredible night for our guys,” Carroll said. “The really cool thing is we didn’t do anything special. We did what we liked doing and the way we want to play, we matched the guys up the way we always match up.”
Of course the bigger statement than what happened in this win is what it means to the playoff picture. Barring a pretty big collapse by the Seahawks, the road to the Super Bowl comes through this building, and after what we saw the Seahawks do to a very good team Monday, that’s going to be one tough road for whatever teams face Seattle in the postseason.
“We wanted to come out strong, we wanted to, figuratively speaking, hit them in the mouth so we could do what we wanted to do for the rest of the game,” said receiver Doug Baldwin. “… We were able to do that and that momentum definitely helped us.”
And let’s not forget that the Seahawks came into this game favored by 5.5 points and on a 13-game winning streak at home, so this isn’t a scrappy underdog story, but still there were plenty of people wondering if the Seahawks might be distracted over suspension news, of if the offense might lack a spark with receiver Percy Harvin back on the sideline.
Instead, they just played their game, and that was more than sufficient. That “every week is a championship week” line we hear all the time? That stuff is real — cliche as heck, but real. This wasn’t a distracted team, or a team that had lost its momentum over the bye.
“We’re never distracted,” Sherman said. “We’re a disciplined ballclub, we keep it all in house and we worry about the task at hand all times. We have a lot of good players who stay focused on the task at hand, take it one week at a time, and Pete preaches that mindset. He has instilled that in all of us, and that’s all we know.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.