Two first quarter Steven Hauschka field goals gave Seattle a six-point lead, and Marshawn Lynch's 15-yard rumble to the end zone opened the game up to 13-0. Hauschka kicked another field goal before the first half was through, making the score 16-0 at the break.
No scoring occurred in the third quarter, as Seattle's defense held strong even as its offense sputtered. Early in the fourth, Khiry Robinson's one-yard touchdown run, followed by Mark Ingram's two-point conversion, brought the game to within one score, but Lynch seemingly put the game out of reach with a 31-yard touchdown run with fewer than three minutes to play.
With 26 seconds left in the game, Drew Brees found Marques Colston for a nine-yard score, and the Saints recovered the ensuing onside kick to give themselves one last chance. Brees found Jimmy Graham for eight yards, then Colston for 13 down the sideline, but the wide receiver attempted to lateral the ball across the field instead of stepping out of bounds. The toss was ruled as forward, causing a dead ball and a 10-second runoff that ended the game.
In an era when it's popular to undervalue the importance of running backs, remember that Marshawn Lynch is the difference between prepping for the NFC Championship and scheduling a tee time. When all else was failing, the team leaned on Lynch and he validated that confidence with arguably his best game of the year. With the defense knowing he was getting it (literally 50% of Seattle's offensive plays were handoffs to Lynch), Marshawn delivered yard after painstaking yard, gaining the majority of his 140 after contact.
The Saints actually had a remote chance to tie it up with just seconds left after successfully recovering an onside kick, but Marques Colston decided to try a lateral instead of step out of bounds and give the Saints one more chance to reach the end zone.
Despite giving up 23 points the Saints defense played well, giving their offense plenty of chances to win the game, but Seattle's defense proved too much.