Date: January 8, 2011
Venue: Qwest Field
City: Seattle, WA
Matt Hasselbeck set a Seahawks postseason record by throwing four touchdown passes and Marshawn Lynch reeled off a franchise-record 67-yard touchdown run with 3:22 to play that helped preserve a stunning, 41-36 victory over the New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field in an NFC Wild Card game. The Seahawks, the first team in NFL history to reach the postseason with a losing record (7-9) entered as 11-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl champions. But after twice trailing by 10 points in the first half, the Seahawks stormed back behind Hasselbeck to take a 34-20 lead entering the fourth quarter. Drew Brees rallied the Saints to within 34-30, then Lynch ripped off one of the most thrilling runs in Seahawks history, giving Seattle an 11-point lead and the luxury of giving up a late TD to Brees and the Saints.
Star Of The Game
One week after sitting out an NFC West-clinching victory over St. Louis with a hip injury, and three days after learning he would start, Matt Hasselbeck set a franchise postseason record by firing four touchdown passes. Hasselbeck completed 22 of 35 throws for 272 yards. He threw one interception, but the ball went right through the hands of Ben Obomanu. Hasselbeck’s 4 TDs broke the previous Seattle playoff record of three, by Dave Krieg against Denver on Dec. 24, 1983. Hasselbeck finished with a passer rating of 113.0.
Play of the game
With Seattle leading 34-30 at the 4:20 mark of the fourth quarter, the Saints stopped Marshawn Lynch for no gain on first down. On second down, Lynch broke through the Saints’ line and romped 67 yards to a touchdown, the longest postseason TD run in franchise history. En route, Lynch reversed field and shed at least six tacklers. Lynch’s touchdown run will likely be replayed in the Northwest for years. The previous longest TD run in Seattle playoff history: 17 yards by Leonard Weaver against Washington in 2008. The previous longest non-TD run: 32 yards by Mack Strong in 2005. Lynch’s run also enabled him to finish with 131 rushing yards, the No. 2 single-game mark in team history behind only Shaun Alexander’s 132 in the 2006 NFC Championship game against Carolina.
Misplay of the game
With New Orleans making a comeback from a 34-20 deficit, the Seahawks were flagged for delay of game on fourth down from the Saints’ 38-yard line that took them out of field-goal range.
Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes to TE John Carlson (11 and 7 yards) and one each to Brandon Stokley (45 yards) and Mike Williams (38 yards). His 4 TD throws gave him 15 for his playoff career — 6 more than No. 2 Dave Krieg, who had nine.
- Marshawn Lynch produced the first 100-yard rushing game by a Seahawk back this season by gaining 131 yards on 19 carries. Lynch became the first Seattle running back to have a 100-yard playoff game since Shaun Alexander on Jan. 14, 2007.
- John Carlson: Targeted 3 times, Carlson made three catches, two for touchdowns (11 and 7 yards). Carlson caught only one touchdown pass during the regular season. By catching 2 TDs, Carlson became the third player in Seahawks franchise history with multiple receiving TDs in a playoff game. He joins Jerramy Stevens (2007 vs. Dallas) and Steve Largent (1988 vs. Houston).
- Brandon Stokley made 4 catches, led Seattle in receiving yards with 83 and scored on a 45-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck that gave Seattle a 24-17 lead in the second quarter; targeted 4 times and made 4 catches.
- Raheem Brock had 4 solo tackles and a sack while keeping constant pressure on Drew Brees; also one quarterback hit.
- Earl Thomas made 8 solo tackles from the safety position, matching a season high achieved twice previously — at New Orleans on; Nov. 21 and vs. Kansas City on Nov. 28; also broke up one pass.
- David Hawthorne had a team-leading nine tackles (6 solo) and broke up one pass.
- Mike Williams caught 5 passes for 68 yards and scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck; targeted 8 times.
- The Seahawks blasted for 149 rushing yards (their second-highest total of the season).
- The 24 points scored by the Seahawks in the first half were the most the team has ever scored in the first half in a playoff game. The previous high was 20 points on Jan. 22, 2006 vs the Carolina Panthers (won the game 34-14) in the NFC Championship game.
- The Seahawks gave up a 404-yard passing game to New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, the first time an opposing quarterback exceeded 400 passing yards against the Seahawks in a postseason game (previoous record was 319 by Brett Favre on Jan. 4, 2004, at Lambeau Field in 2 overtimes).
- The Seahawks ran only 61 total plays to 83 for New Orleans.
- Despite rushing for 149 yards, the Seahawks had only 4 rushing first downs.
- Justin Forsett carried 4 times for 20 yard and caught 2 passes for 12 more.
- Ben Obomanu: Targeted a team-high 11 times, caught 5 balls for 43 yards with a long gain of 18.
- Kelly Jennings had a season-high 8 tackles, including 5 solo.
- Marcus Trufant made 7 tackles (6 solo), two shy of his season high.
- Aaron Curry made 6 tackles (5 solo), two shy of his season high.
- Olindo Mare made both of his field goal attempts, with a long of 39.
- Leon Washington returned 4 kickoffs for 79 yards (long of 24) and one punt for 12 yards; rushed once for a -1 yard.
- Jon Ryan punted 4 times for a 38.8-yard average with 2 kicks downed inside the 20.
- “It’s disappointing. It starts with us and myself and the rest of the coaches. I thought they had effort but in the end, not enough to win this game. It’s disappointing to get in the postseason and finish with a loss to start.” — Sean Payton, Saints head coach, after the game
- “We kind of expected to win. I know that sounds crazy, but we did expect to win. The fact that it happened, it’s just kind of like, we want to take it in stride and go to the next one. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the way the mindset of this team was.” — Pete Carroll, Seahawks coach, after the 41-36 win over the Saints
- “We respect the heck out of the Saints, but I think we felt something special all week and today, and we’ll see. “It’s a good start for us.” — Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks quarterback, after throwing touchdown passes against the Saints
- .643: Know this about the NFC West: since 2005, the NFC West is a combined 9-5 and has won at least one game each postseason. Its collective .643 win percentage is the best divisional postseason record in the NFL during that span. The AFC North is second at .625.
- 5: Seahawks became the fifth team since 1978 to make the playoffs with a point differential of minus-50 or worse. But all five teams, including Seattle on Saturday, won their playoff games. However, all were eliminated in the following round.
- 2: Touchdown runs by Julius Jones of the Saints. Released by Seattle on Oct. 5, Jones became the first player in NFL history to score a postseason touchdown against the team that released him during the regular season.