RENTON, Wash. – Forget what happened last time. That’s what Pete Carroll says.
The Seahawks dismantled Saturday’s divisional-round playoff opponent, the New Orleans Saints, 34-7 on Dec. 2. The 188 yards the Saints gained that day were the fewest under head coach Sean Payton, who has been running the team since 2006, save last season, when he was suspended.
But never mind that, Carroll says. This is a new week in a new situation.
“It has nothing to do with what happened before,” Carroll said. “We learned and we gained information in the game, as they did. We start all over again. Take a look at what’s happened since we played them. Compare the build-up, what have they done coming into the game, what did they do, what’s happened since then. I think it’d be a mistake to try to call (the result) because of what’s happened in the past and all that. We don’t care about that.”
The Saints do. Following their 26-24 win Saturday night over the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans players spoke of retribution for the December dismantling.
“It was embarrassing, humbling. It was all of the above, I guess you could say,” Jimmy Graham said after Saturday’s game. “I certainly won’t ever forget that moment. And now we have a great opportunity to prove ourselves against one of the best teams in the NFL. It’s gonna be a battle, that’s for sure.”
Locking down Graham, the Saints’ Pro-Bowl tight end, was a key part to the first game. Graham had just three catches in nine targets for 42 yards.
He wasn’t alone in his ineffectiveness. Almost everything the Saints tried did not work. They scored a season-low seven points. Drew Brees threw for a season-low 147 yards, 160 yards fewer than New Orleans’ season average. The last time he threw for less than 200 yards was on Jan.2, 2011.
The Saints were 25th in rushing yards this season, but have looked to change things up lately. Against the Eagles, the Saints ran 36 times and passed 30. That’s a drastic shift in philosophy, especially considering their lead back, Pierre Thomas (chest injury), did not play. Bowling-ball back Mark Ingram carried a season-high 18 times for 97 yards against Philadelphia’s 10th-ranked rushing defense.
When Shayne Graham kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired Saturday night, he sent Carroll and staff to work. The Seahawks have faced the Saints twice at CenturyLink Field since Carroll was hired in 2010. Neither are good memories for the Bayou bunch.
The first was a 41-36 loss in a Wild Card game notable for Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast quake” run. Brees was 39 of 60 for 404 yards in that game, when the Seahawks’ All-Pro secondary was still developing. Richard Sherman hadn’t been drafted, Earl Thomas was a rookie and Kam Chancellor split time with Lawyer Milloy.
Less was at stake earlier this season during Monday Night Footbal. The Saints had more first downs (3) from Seahawks penalties than they did rushing (2).
“There’s no automatics here,” Carroll said. “They’re going to hear about it. I think it’s just common knowledge that it’s human nature.
“You’d like to think that it’s going to be the same, but we know better than that.”