Rain fell in Seattle, the 12th man was loud and the Seahawks defense look dominant before a near-collapse in the fourth quarter was avoided thanks to a lapse in judgement by Marques Colston. The 23-15 win ensures Seattle will host the NFC Championship and force a team to face its dangerous defense.
A botched onside kick recovery by Golden Tate gave the Saints one last chance. Drew Brees found Colston on the sideline for a deep gain, setting up a potential last-second touchdown to force overtime. However, the receiver made the ill-advised decision to attempt a lateral pass instead of stepping out of bounds and it ensured the final pass of the game came from Colston and not an all-pro quarterback.
New Orleans was unable to lean on what got the team to the playoffs. Tight end Jimmy Graham was held to one catch, while Brees was ineffective for three quarters. Conditions in Seattle didn't help the Saints offense either, with several passes sailing high and being caught in swirling winds inside CenturyLink field.
Head coach Sean Payton attempted to shift the focus of New Orleans offense to lesser-known players, but the changes didn't lead to sustained success. It wasn't until early in the fourth quarter than the Saints found the end zone, and despite mounting an impressive comeback the deficit was too much to overcome.
Russell Wilson was largely ineffective for the Seahawks, but it didn't matter. He finished with a career low in passing yards, however he was supported by an effective team rushing performance that resulted in 177 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, with Marshawn Lynch becoming the team's most reliable offensive player.
The win puts the Seahawks one game away from the Super Bowl. Their opponent is yet to be determined, but will have a difficult task to overcome a loud stadium and dangerous defense.James Dator
Down 13-0 in the second quarter the New Orleans Saints attempted a fourth-and-three conversion rather than attempting a field goal in the rain. Drew Brees had a receiver open in the middle of the field, but middle linebacker Bobby Wagner rushed the line and had the wherewithal to break up the pass rather than attempt to hit the quarterback and let him get the pass off.
"We haven't done anything yet. Our goal is to win the whole thing."
-- Russell Wilson
Seattle will host the winner of Sunday's divisional playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers. Neither team is a surprise for the Seahawks, who played both in 2013. They split the divisional series with the 49ers and beat the Panthers in Week 1 of the regular season.