Seahawks stun Saints

Seahawks wide receiver Brandon Stokley races in for a touchdown in his team's upset of the Super...

Seahawks wide receiver Brandon Stokley races in for a touchdown in his team's upset of the Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints on Saturday in Seattle. (REUTERS)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 PM ET

SEATTLE -- They hoped, but not even the most hard-core Seattle fan could really believe.

What sane person could?

This was the kind of mismatch no set of rose-coloured glasses could penetrate.

But, as the seconds drained away on this monumental upset, there was one undeniable fact: Seahawks 41, Saints 36.

Did you just see that pig fly by?

"The whole game we felt confident and I know you're all wondering where that comes from after the season we had, but it was there," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.

"Don't ask me how it was there -- but it was."

This was a team labelled the worst outfit ever to appear in an NFL wildcard game versus the defending Super Bowl champions.

And now they'll be the worst team ever to appear in an NFL Divisional playoff game. They are no longer playing with the house money: they own the casino.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, whose sputtering offence had never scored more than 36 points all year, found a way to deliver 41 points against the league's fourth-ranked defence.

They spotted New Orleans 10 points, then outscored them 41-26 the rest of the way.

Now they're headed to either Chicago or Atlanta next weekend, depending on the outcome of Sunday's Green Bay/Philadelphia wildcard game. And if they win that, they'll finally be a .500 ballclub, heading to the NFC Championship game.

If Seattle was going to even keep this game close, they needed a perfect storm. They needed to play their best game of the season and they needed the Saints to ... well, suck.

They were 2-for-2.

"We had tremendous balance," said Carroll. "We ran the ball for 150 (yards) and passed for 270. "

Late in the fourth quarter, with the Seahawks up 34-30 and the Saints desperate to get the ball back for one more opportunity, Lynch ran straight up the middle and somehow fought off six tackles on a 67-yard touchdown run that truly sank the Saints.

The Seahawks started the game as if they were going to stick to the script and go meekly to their fate.

Just eight minutes into the game, New Orleans was up 10-0 and Hasselbeck had thrown a pick to set up seven of those points.

But nobody on the Seattle side panicked and suddenly they were breaking off big chunks of real estate against a defence that was missing three of its regulars.

"It wasn't just one thing, it wasn't just one player, it was a whole combination of things," said Hasselbeck.

"We just beat the world champs and it's a pretty good feeling. It was a bunch of guys who refused to panic. On my third play from scrimmage, I threw a pick. Big mistake but we forgot it. We could easily have tanked it right there but we didn't."

They started trading haymakers with Brees and Co., and by the third quarter, the Saints looked as if they were punched out. In the last 19 minutes of the first half, the Seahawks outscored New Orleans 24-10, then came out in their first possession of the third quarter and rolled down the field to take an 11-point lead.

Inspired by the offence, the Seahawks defence became ravenous and when they stopped former Seahawk Julius Jones on fourth and a foot at the New Orleans 40 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter, this improbable fairy tale started to seem real.

Not so fast. This is a Drew Brees offence the Seahawks were trying to beat and he wasn't going down without a fight. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Jones scored his second touchdown of the day on a four-yard run to cap off a 12-play, 87-yard drive to pull within seven.

On New Orleans' next possession they cut through the Seattle defence like a hot knife through butter but still had to settle for their third short field goal of the day as the Seahawk defence stiffened.

Then, the back-breaker.

With the Seahawks just trying to milk the clock to keep the ball out of Brees' hands, keeping the ball on the ground, Lynch took a handoff and ran through six tackles on a 67-yard TD run to seal an upset victory they'll be talking about for a hundred years in these parts.

"That run by Marshawn (Lynch) was one of the greatest I've ever seen," said Carroll. "It was breathtaking."


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