SEATTLE – Ordinarily, you don’t feel like your defense had a great day when you give up 36 points.
But Saturday was a little different for the Seattle Seahawks.
“Ordinarily, you’re not playing a team with that kind of offense and that kind of quarterback,” Seattle linebacker Will Herring said.
So it was that on a day when the Seahawks gave up 474 yards, the defense earned praise throughout a jubilant locker room after a shocking 41-36 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in an NFL wild-card playoff game.
The Saints scored 17 points on their first three possessions and made it look easy, but they didn’t score another touchdown until the fourth quarter, by which time they were trying to erase a 14-point deficit.
“They are a notorious start-fast team,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of the Saints. “They are pretty good in starting games. They’re pretty famous for it. But we already had that in our mindset. It was not part of our thinking (to get frustrated), and we just kept playing football.”
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees had an NFL playoff-record 39 pass completions on 60 attempts, good for 404 yards and two touchdowns.
But they were the quietest 404 yards you’ll ever see.
“Here’s the thing that you have to know going into a game like this, playing against Drew Brees and such a high-powered offense,” Seattle safety Jordan Babineaux said. “He’s going to throw for 280. He’s going to get his yards. He’s going to get his first downs. He’s going to move the ball.
“But if you defuse the explosives and don’t give up the deep shots and at times in the red zone you make them kick field goals, it pisses him off.”
That is exactly what the Seattle defense did.
Three times, the Seahawks held New Orleans to a field goal inside the 10-yard line. They held on a fourth-down play in the third quarter. They recovered a fumble to set up a field goal in the second quarter.
“When you’ve got an offense like that, you can’t look at the scoreboard and say they threw for this many yards and they ran for that many yards,” Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons said. “It’s just about getting key stops. When they got down in the red zone, we were able to force them to field goals.
“It was a matter of will and it was a matter of heart.”