It was supposed to be a battle for home-field advantage. Instead, it turned into an exclamation point on Seattle's resume as the best team in the NFC and possibly the NFL.
The Seahawks started well and never let up, rolling over the Saints en route to a 34-7 win on Monday Night Football. Hyped as the best matchup of the season, there was plenty of buzz heading into the game. Seattle wasted very little time taking the drama out of the game, dominating from opening kickoff.
With Seattle playing without two of its top three cornerbacks, Drew Brees and the prolific Saints offense were supposed to have an advantage. Instead, the Saints struggled to even gain a yard in the early going. New Orleans didn't pick up a first down during its first three possessions and a Brees fumble on the second possession resulted in a Seattle defensive touchdown by Michael Bennett.
That proved to only be a sign of things to come. While the New Orleans offense was trying to find ways to slow down the Seattle pass rush and move the ball, the defense was busy being shredded by Russell Wilson. Using both his skills as a passer and his ability to run, Wilson led the Seahawks down the field seemingly at ease in the first half. The dominating effort helped Seattle go up 27-7 at halftime. Seattle racked up 315 yards in the half, the most New Orleans had allowed in a first half since 2005, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
While Seattle played well in all three phases, the Seahawks also benefited from a little luck. Wilson attempted to hit tight end Kellen Davis early in the third quarter, only to see the ball bounce up in the air. That type of deflection often results in an interception or an incompletion in a best-case scenario for the offense. This time, Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman corralled the ball and dove into the end zone. Touchdown Seahawks. It was just that kind of a night.
With Percy Harvin inactive after his hip flared up, the Seahawks were supposed to be lacking weapons for Wilson to throw to. It was hard to tell on Monday with Wilson spreading the ball around to nine different receivers. Doug Baldwin continued to play well, finishing with four receptions for 77 yards. Baldwin, Ricardo Lockette, tight end Zach Miller and fullback Michael Robinson all hauled in receptions of at least 20 yards. Wilson played nearly flawlessly, completing 22-of-30 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed eight times for 47 yards.
While Wilson put the bow on a prolific stat line, Brees spent much of the game peeling himself off the CenturyLink Field turf. Seattle recorded just a single sack, but applied consistent pressure on Brees. He was hurried, hit and forced to move in the pocket most of the night. He came into the game averaging 8.31 yards per attempt, but struggled to post even half that number against Seattle's defense. For the game, he completed 23-of-38 passes for just 147 yards, good for 3.9 YPA. The performance snapped Brees' 43-game streak of throwing for at least 200 yards.
Seattle's dominating performance not only secured its place among the top of the NFC power rankings, it was a significant step to securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With the win, Seattle improved to 11-1 on the season, two games ahead of the 9-3 Saints. Seattle holds the tiebreaker over New Orleans and Carolina, which is also 9-3. At this point, it would be an upset if Seattle didn't secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC. That would mean the playoffs go through Seattle, in a building where the Seahawks haven't lost since 2011 and Wilson has never lost. Wilson is now 14-0 at home as Seattle's starter.
If all of that didn't make for a good enough night for Seahawks fans, the crowd in attendance also set a Guinness World Record for crowd noise at 137.6 decibels.