Seattle Seahawks Upset New Orleans Saints At Qwest Field, 41-36

How did Pete Carroll's offense suddenly morph into a death machine? We don't know, but we do know that a 7-9 team has ousted the defending Super Bowl champions.

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Seahawks 41, Saints 36, Final Score: Matt Hasselbeck, Marshawn Lynch, And '12th Man' Spark Shocking Upset Of Super Bowl Champs

No 8-8 NFL team has ever won a playoff game, but now, 7-9 teams have a perfect 1-0 postseason record. The Seattle Seahawks, considered not only to be massive underdogs, but undeserving of a playoff spot, found a way to oust the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.

Matt Hasselbeck, all of 35 years old, reverting back to top form on Saturday in Qwest Field. The quarterback recovered from an early interception to toss four touchdown passes and throw for 272 yards against a Saints offense that struggled to slow him down.

The most spectacular play of the game, though -- and perhaps, given the context, the best of the season to date -- was provided by Marshawn Lynch. (You can watch video here.) The Seahawks led 34-30 with just over four minutes left in the game, and Coach Pete Carroll doubtlessly was hoping for Lynch, who joined the Seahawks mid-season, to simply run for a first down. He did that and much, much more, escaping tackler after tackler to rumble 67 yards into the end zone.

The Saints then scored quickly to narrow the deficit to 41-36, but an onside kick failed. For their part, the Saints built momentum in the second half, and a come-from-behind win seemed likely. Drew Brees completed 39 of 60 passing attempts for 404 yards and two touchdowns, but the running game, despite ex-Seahawks Julius Jones' two rushing touchdowns, couldn't mount much of a threat.

This is certainly one of the biggest, and most exciting, upsets in the history of NFL postseason football. The 2011 NFL Playoffs are off to a spectacular start, and we hope this keeps up.

Celebrate with Seahawks fans at Field Gulls. Commiserate with Saints fans at Canal Street Chronicles.

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Seahawks Vs. Saints: 12th Man Comes Alive As Underdog 'Hawks Lead At Half, 24-20

It's halftime at Qwest Field, and the underdog Seahawks have surprised the NFL by heading into the locker room with a 24-20 halftime lead. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has moved the ball effectively, and a couple of big stops have helped to keep the Saints' offense in check when it's mattered.

In the second quarter, the teams were tied at 17 when Hasselbeck orchestrated a third touchdown drive. Pete Carroll showed his willingness to take risks with a deep shot to wide receiver Brandon Stokley. Hasselbeck found him, and Stokley ran in for a 45-yard touchdown reception.

The Saints' offense was allowed 1:15 with which to work before halftime, and thanks to some apparently blown coverage, Drew Brees launched a 40-yard bomb to Devery Henderson. Before time expired in the first half, the Saints were able to manage a field goal, though the Seahawks' defense was at least able to stop them in the red zone.

Both quarterbacks are looking terrific. Hasselbeck has more than made up for his interception with three touchdown passes and 168 yards through the air. On the other side of the ball, Brees has thrown for 189 yards and a touchdown. Both running games have been somewhat effective, but it seems as though this game will be decided by its quarterbacks.

With the "12th Man" -- the nickname for the rowdy Seattle faithful -- behind them, the Seahawks are set to receive the ball in the second half. They're the first 7-9 team ever to appear in a playoff game, let alone win it. We'll see if they can make history, or if the defending champion Saints can take care of business.

Stay tuned to this StoryStream for further updates as the game progresses. And for more on these teams, be sure to check in with SB Nation's Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles, and our Seahawks blog, Field Gulls.

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Matt Hasselbeck Will Start For Seahawks Vs. Saints Game

On Thursday, the Seattle Seahawks announced that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will make the start for Saturday's playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. Hasselbeck has been nursing a hip injury, which kept him off the field during Sunday night's regular-season finale against the Rams.

Over the past week, head coach Pete Carroll had evaded the question of who he would start at quarterback:

"Both quarterbacks are dead into this as much as they can be, and we'll have them both available. They both will be ready to play football so that's good, and we'll figure who's going to start in a little bit."

Hasselbeck will re-take the helm after stepping aside for backup Charlie Whitehurst, who played a fairly mistake-free game as the Seahawks became the first-ever 7-9 team to clinch a playoff spot. This will be Hasselbeck's fourth career postseason, and his first since 2007.

This season, the 35-year-old Hasselbeck has been, at different turns, terrific and disappointing. He's only thrown 12 touchdown passes while tossing 17 interceptions, including 10 in the last four full games he's played.

For more on Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks, check in with SB Nation's Seahawks blog, Field Gulls.

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