Seahawks coaches planned to spend the weekend beginning preparations for their playoff opponent the minute the matchup was set.
They’ll have a hard time, though, putting together a better game plan than the one they devised the last time they met the New Orleans Saints, who won the right to play the Seahawks in the divisional round Saturday at CenturyLink Field by beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 26-24.
Saturday’s playoff game, which begins at 1:35 p.m., will be a rematch of Seattle’s 34-7 win over the Saints at CenturyLink Field on Dec. 2.
That game stands as one of the best performances of the year for Seattle, a resounding victory in a Monday Night showdown between the teams with the two best records in the NFC at the time.
It was, conversely, maybe the worst performance of the year for the Saints, who gained just 188 yards, by far their lowest total of the season (they gained at least 347 yards in every other game).
The Seahawks jumped on the Saints early and often that night, scoring all four times they had the ball in the first half on drives of 61, 73, 82 and 88 yards. They also got a fumble return for a touchdown in taking a 27-7 halftime lead.
“It was just a terrific night,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after a win that all but clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs before the Super Bowl for the Seahawks.
Almost immediately after beating the Eagles Saturday night on a 32-yard field goal by Shayne Graham as time ran out, the Saints vowed that their return trip would go better.
“We got our wish,” receiver Marques Colston told reporters in Philadelphia after the Eagles’ win. “We have to watch the film and get prepared and have a great week. That first night against them was not us. We feel like we are a better team and we have to prove that.”
Added receiver Lance Moore: “We got our butts kicked. It was a wake-up call for us. It showed us what we needed to do and what level that we needed to play on to be successful. They will be ready for us. They will be rested up and ready to play. We have our work cut out for us, and we’ll be ready to play.”
For some of the more veteran Saints, like Brees, the trip back to Seattle also revives memories of another dark chapter in New Orleans history, a 41-36 wild-card playoff loss to the Seahawks in 2011. That season, the Saints were the defending Super Bowl champions, but after failing to win their division with an 11-5 record, they had to play at Seattle, which won the West with a 7-9 record.
The Saints were 10.5-point favorites, but couldn’t beat the Seahawks in a game remembered most for Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard “Beast Quake” TD run that clinched the win in the fourth quarter.
After beating the Eagles, Brees praised the Seahawks, but added that New Orleans’ recent trips to Seattle may better help the Saints for the atmosphere this weekend.
“Obviously, we did not play our best football (on Dec. 2),” Brees said. “We got beat pretty soundly by those guys.
There’s a reason they’re the one seed. There’s a reason that the road to the championship goes through Seattle, because they’re a heck of a football team. They know how to win, they know how to win at home. So we know the challenge that presents us, to travel to Seattle and go there and play.
“I think just stepping into that environment on ‘Monday Night Football,’ we know what to expect. We were there in the playoffs in (2011), so we’ve played there in some big atmospheres. We were there Sunday Night Football in 2007 (a 28-17 New Orleans win). So it seems like every time we’re there it’s a prime-time game.
” … They’re a great football team. We’re going to need our best effort to beat these guys. But if there’s a team that can do it, I believe that’s us.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.