The Seattle Seahawks took advantage of multiple New Orleans Saints miscues to jump out to a commanding 16-0 lead heading into the third quarter. Seattle forced a Mark Ingram fumble on the Saints' third possession of the game and quickly turned that into a 15-yard touchdown by running back Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks kicked a 38-yard field goal on their opening drive after the Saints messed up a punt that went only 16 yards and didn't even push Seattle beyond midfield. Saints kicker Shayne Graham then missed on a 45-yard attempt, which led to a Seattle drive that ended in a 49-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka in the final minute of the first quarter. Lynch's touchdown a few plays later pushed the score to 13-0.
Seattle poured it on with extended drives throughout the half as quarterback Russell Wilson was tough to find for New Orleans' defense. One notable play late in the half saw Wilson roll out on second-and-15, fake a run, and then hit Jermaine Kearse for a 25-yard reception to put the Seahawks at the 15 at the two-minute warning.
The Saints were about to force another field goal before they received an ill-timed penalty. Cornerback Keenan Lewis was called for holding on a huge third-down stop, which led to an automatic first-and-goal for Seattle. Fortunately for the Saints, they managed to hold again the next time out, and Seattle only added three more points to its lead.
New Orleans was unable to put a stop to the Seattle running game early on, leaving big holes for Lynch and Robert Turbin. Lynch tallied 15 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown in the first half, while Turbin added three carries for nine yards. Wilson completed 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards in the opening half.
If the Seahawks win this game, they will play at home in the NFC Championship. If New Orleans manages a comeback in the second half -- not altogether unlikely given the New Orleans offense -- they'll have to travel to either Carolina or San Francisco.