EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Curled without a womb to protect him, Giants quarterback Eli Manning pulled his knees toward his chest on the MetLife Stadium FieldTurf three plays into the Giants first possession.
Manning likely would have preferred to stay there for the rest of the cool and crisp afternoon, but he had to get up and deal with the Seahawks defense the rest of the way.
It did not go well.
The Seahawks intercepted Manning five times during a 23-0 asphyxiating of the New York Giants in the site of this seasons Super Bowl. Seattle moved to 12-2 on the season and is one win from claiming the NFC West and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Seahawks also finished a franchise-best 6-2 on the road this season.
A complete game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. All day long, all phases. Sacking the quarterbacks and the picks, it was as complete a game as weve had.
It was Seattles first shutout of the year and first time the Giants were scoreless at home in the regular season since the Dallas Cowboys beat them 35-0, Sept. 4 1995.
So dominant were the Seahawks, the Giants didnt cross midfield until a Kam Chancellor personal foul vaulted them over the brickwalled 50-yard line with 7 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the game.
I think this was one of our best games disguise-wise, communication wise, safety Earl Thomas, who had an interception, said. I think our (defensive) line did a great job of keeping pressure in (Manning's) face, making him step up and scramble for his life. He was just throwing it up.
"We have great guys back there just waiting for games like this and we capitalized when we had our opportunities.
Out of the litany of evidence that Manning was atrocious and the Seahawks ferocious, was this: Seattle cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell combined to catch more Manning passes (4) than the Giants' top two receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks (3).
A pathetic performance, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said.
New York finished with 54 yards in the first half. During its opening drive in the second half, it reduced that total to 44 yards after its first series earned -10 yards.
While New Yorkers dispersed, the Seahawks took a look around. During the week leading up to the game, Seattle tried to trump two narratives. First, that it would have a hard time getting going after losing to San Francisco, something which proved not to be true.
Second, that it wasnt thinking about the Super Bowl being played in the same site Sundays game was. That may have been true during the week, but was not Sunday.
Id be lying if I said I never thought about it, linebacker Bobby Wagner said. We know that we have two more games in the regular season and weve got to take care of business in the playoffs to get back out here. If we play our cards right, well be back out here.
After not running once last week, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambled eight times for a team-high 50 yards. Wilson was 18-for-27 on the day for 206 yards and a touchdown. The offense wasnt spectacular, but did enough.
Kicker Steven Hauschka hit three field goals -- from 49, 44 and 24 yards -- to move to an automated 27-for-28 on the season.
The Seahawks gave up four punt return yards. This is news because its the first time since Oct. 28, a span of five games, Seattle has allowed an inch to a punt returner.
I really loved the way we played across the board, Carroll said.
San Francisco walloped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 33-14, in Tampa to extend things at least one more week. If the Seahawks and 49ers finish tied at 12-4, San Francisco would take the division because of a better division record.
A 13th win would for the Seahawks would make other results moot. It would also put them two playoffs wins from coming back to New Jersey on Feb. 2, finally allowing them to stop putting off questions and start making plans.