SEATTLE — The New Orleans Saints didn’t blame the CenturyLink Field noise for their 34-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.
Instead, they blamed themselves and credited the Seahawks.
“Obviously, it was a difficult loss,” coach Sean Payton said. “We didn’t do a lot of things well in that game. … Credit Seattle. (The Seahawks) made the plays they needed to, and they certainly were a better team tonight.”
And they were better from the start. After a field goal on their first possession, the Seahawks widened the gap on the Saints’ second possession when Cliff Avril hit quarterback Drew Brees, forcing a fumble that defensive end Michael Bennett grabbed out of the air and carried 22 yards into the end zone.
There was no way to know at the time, of course, but Seattle already had all the points it would need.
“Obviously, those are plays that swing games,” Payton said. “But look, we had opportunities. We felt like we had some opportunities late in the second quarter. We just didn’t do enough offensively.”
The Saints came in with the third-ranked offense in the NFL, but they struggled against the Seahawks’ second-ranked defense.
The seven points were the fewest scored by New Orleans this season, and matched the fewest since Payton became coach in 2006. The Saints’ 188 total yards were the fewest since the final game of the 2001 season – a span of 188 games.
Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham was targeted nine times but he was limited to three catches for a team-high 42 yards and the Saints’ lone touchdown.
“They are very good,” Brees said. “They don’t have any weak links. … They put it all together and they play very well together within their scheme. Obviously they play extremely well at home because they can thrive on that crowd noise.”
The Saints had practiced with a noise machine to prepare for what turned out to be a stadium-record crowd of 68,387, but Payton acknowledged that the crowd had an impact.
“(Crowd noise) impacts certain plays,” he said. “I don’t know that that was the difference tonight. It can be the difference on third down. It certainly can be the difference when it comes to protection. But I don’t know that I would point to that tonight.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808