Forget what happened last time. That’s what Pete Carroll says.
The Seahawks dismantled Saturday’s divisional-round playoff opponent, the New Orleans Saints, 34-7 on Dec. 2. The 188 yards the Saints gained that day were the fewest under coach Sean Payton, who has been running the team since 2006, save last season, when he was suspended.
But never mind that, Carroll says. This is a new week, new situation.
“It has nothing to do with what happened before,” Carroll said. “We learned and we gained information in the game, as they did. We start all over again. Take a look at what’s happened since we played them. Compare the buildup, what have they done coming into the game, what did they do, what’s happened since then. I think it’d be a mistake to try to call (the result) because of what’s happened in the past and all that. We don’t care about that.”
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The Saints do. Following their 26-24 win Saturday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans players immediately spoke of retribution for the December dismantling.
“It was embarrassing, humbling. It was all of the above, I guess you could say,” Jimmy Graham told reporters after the Philadelphia game. “I certainly won’t ever forget that moment. And now
we have a great opportunity to prove ourselves against one of the best teams in the NFL. It’s gonna be a battle, that’s for sure.”
Locking down Graham, the Saints Pro Bowl tight end, was key for the Seahawks in the first game. Graham had three catches on nine targets for 42 yards.
He wasn’t alone in his ineffectiveness. Almost everything the Saints tried did not work. They scored a season-low seven points. Drew Brees threw for a season-low 147 yards – 160 fewer than New Orleans’ regular season average. The last time he threw for less than 200 yards was Jan. 2, 2011.
The Saints were 25th in rushing yards this season but have looked to change things up lately. Against the Eagles, the Saints ran 36 times and passed 30. That’s a drastic shift in philosophy, especially considering their lead back, Pierre Thomas (chest), did not play. Bowling-ball back Mark Ingram carried a season-high 18 times for 97 yards against Philadelphia’s 10th-ranked rushing defense.
“It could have been because of that offense, the conditions and all of that,” Carroll said. “We’ll have to see how that figures into our game.”
When Shayne Graham kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired Saturday night, he sent Carroll and staff to work. The Seahawks have faced the Saints twice at CenturyLink Field since Carroll was hired in 2010. Neither are good memories for the Bayou bunch.
The first was a 41-36 loss in the 2011 NFC wild-card game notable for Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast quake” run. Brees was 39-for-60 for 404 yards in that game, when the Seahawks’ All-Pro secondary was still developing. Richard Sherman hadn’t been drafted yet, Earl Thomas was a rookie, and Kam Chancellor was splitting time with Lawyer Milloy.
Less was at stake earlier this season during Monday Night Football with the Seahawks coming off a bye week. The Saints had more first downs from Seahawks penalties (3) than they did rushing (2), despite having Thomas at their disposal. He gained zero yards on four carries.
Those are points of reference but not reliance for Carroll. He’s not going to assume his players automatically realize the earlier result should be jettisoned.
“There’s no automatics here,” Carroll said. “They’re going to hear about it. I think it’s just common knowledge that it’s human nature. You’d like to think that it’s going to be the same, but we know better than that. We have to respect this opportunity for what it is. It’s a great championship matchup for us. They’re going to come loaded up and give us a great football game.”
seahawks’ opponent this week
New Orleans Saints (12-5)
1:30 p.m. Saturday, CenturyLink Field
Against the Seahawks: This is the second playoff meeting between the two teams. The Seahawks are 1-0 in the postseason against New Orleans. The regular-season series is tied, 6-6. The last time the teams met, the Seahawks won, 34-7, on Dec. 2, 2013 in Seattle.
Stats and stuff: The Saints finished the season with the second-best passing offense and defense. ... They were 25th in rushing and 19th against the run, however. ... The Saints scored just seven points in the first game against the Seahawks. The last time the Saints scored in single-digits was Oct. 19, 2008 against the Carolina Panthers. ... Linebacker Curtis Lofton led the Saints with 125 tackles. ... Former Seahawks’ linebacker David Hawthorne was second with 91 tackles. ... The Saints lost the leading tackler in their secondary, Kenny Vaccaro, for the season when he broke his ankle and needed surgery Dec. 22. ... Defensive end Cameron Jordan led the Saints with 12.5 sacks. ... Leading rusher Pierre Thomas (chest) was inactive for the Saints last week against Philadelphia. ... The Saints were fourth in the NFL in total offense (399.4) and 10th in points per game (25.9). ... The Saints intercepted 12 passes this season. The Seahawks led the league with 28 interceptions.
Quotable: “We can’t go up to Seattle and turn the ball over that early and expect to get a win.” — New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham on the Saints getting away with two early interceptions against Philadelphia
Sept. 8W, 23-17vs. Atlanta
Sept. 15W, 16-14at Tampa Bay
Sept. 22W, 31-7vs. Arizona
Sept. 30W, 38-17vs. Miami
Oct. 6W, 26-18at Chicago
Oct. 13L, 30-27at New England
Oct. 27W, 35-17 vs. Buffalo
Nov. 3L, 26-20at New York Jets
Nov. 10W, 49-17vs. Dallas
Nov. 17W, 23-20 vs. San Francisco
Nov.21W, 17-13 at Atlanta
Dec. 2L, 34-7at Seattle
Dec. 8W, 31-13vs. Carolina
Dec. 15L, 27-16at St. Louis
Dec. 22L, 17-13at Carolina
Dec. 29W, 42-17vs. Tampa Bay
Jan. 4W, 26-24at Philadelphia (NFC wild-card playoff) CALLING ALL SEAHAWKS FANATiCS
How big of a “12th Man” are you? We want to hear about it. Submit a photo of your fanaticism under the category “fans” online at: bit.ly/1dug4Aa. Share your story and contact information with us. We’ll highlight a few of the best in the newspaper and put together a photo gallery online.
watch the seahawks at cheney stadium
Looking for a place to watch Saturday’s playoff game between the Seahawks and Saints? Head to Cheney Stadium and watch the game on the 50-foot video board from the Summit Club. Admission is free – doors open an hour before kickoff to fans 21-and-over only – and drink and food specials will be available. To reserve a table or luxury suite call 253-752-7707 during regular business hours or email firstname.lastname@example.org
blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas email@example.com