New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes the ball during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. The Saints defeated the Eagles 26-24. (USA TODAY Sports: Howard Smith)
This is where the Seattle Seahawks wanted to be —- at home, coming off a bye, needing just two wins to get to the Super Bowl.
And all of that, the Seahawks say, means it doesn’t really matter who they have to play to get there.
That their Divisional round opponent Saturday, though, happens to be the New Orleans Saints adds some obvious intrigue.
The Seahawks beat the Saints 34-7 on Dec. 2, a Monday Night clobbering that was maybe Seattle’s best all-around game of the season. And the ease with which Seattle won that game leads to the obvious question of whether the Seahawks think it will be easy again.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll, though, said he doesn’t think that’ll be an issue. But just in case, he brought it up to his team first thing once the playoff matchup was set.
“This is one of those answers that goes along with how you prepare every week,” he said. “The last game didn’t matter and who you played and how they played and all that doesn’t matter and this certainly applies to somebody that we’ve played before in the season.
“We know… it was like the first thing I had addressed in our team meeting when we came back together was, ‘What has happened in the past doesn’t tell the story of what’s going to happen in the future one way or the other.’ So you have to have the discipline to do that. If you’re not disciplined about that and understand that and appreciate that, so you go back to work and start all over again, then you could fall prey to that and think that, ‘Okay something is going to be easier than otherwise’ or it could be so hard that we couldn’t be able to handle it.”
Seattle won that game with a dominating effort on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Saints, 429-188, with Russell Wilson completing 22-of-30 passes for 310 yards and an astounding passer rating of 139.6, while holding Drew Brees to 23-38 passing for 147 yards —- his lowest total since 2010.
The Seahawks, though, know that Brees and company are likely to change some things up this time around, specifically trying to find ways to get tight end Jimmy Graham (three catches for 42 yards in the first game) more involved.
Offensively, Seattle used a big-play offense to break the game open early in the first meeting, with tight end Zach Miller setting up one score with a 60-yard reception on a play-action pass, and Doug Baldwin catching a 52-yarder in a man coverage situation to set up another. Wilson also had 47 yards rushing expertly executing the zone read for some timely gains early in the game as the Seattle offense set the tone.
The Seahawks have struggled offensively since then, with just 77 points in the last four games.
However, the Seahawks are likely to get the services of receiver Percy Harvin for just the second time all season as he appears ready to return after battling a hip injury all year. That could add a dimension to the Seattle offense that would offset any counters made by the Saints from the Dec. 2 game.
Cornerback Richard Sherman, meanwhile, said the way Seattle lost last year in the Divisional round, and the perpetual chip on the shoulder carried by many players, will mean there is no sense of the Seahawks being complacent after having won the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
“I think that’s how are team is made,” Sherman said. “Our team is made to play with a chip on our shoulder regardless of the situation, regardless of the notoriety that we’re getting, regardless of anything because you can’t change the chip, you can’t take it off. So guys will always play with that edge, that fire, and that hunger. It’s something that is embedded in all of us.”
SERIES HISTORY: 13th meeting. Series tied, 6-6, including one playoff game Seattle won. The Seahawks beat the Saints 41-36 following the 2010 season in a Wild Card game at CenturyLink Field. The teams have met 12 times in the regular season and have each won six games.