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January 11, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Seahawks beat Saints, reach NFC title game: Quick Thoughts

What happened: A 23-15 win, that’s what. Seattle pulled away early, then let New Orleans get within a score before pulling away again on a 31-yard touchdown run from Marshawn Lynch (Beast Quake II?). The Saints did score late and recover an onside kick, but they were out of timeouts by then and couldn’t get close enough for a realistic shot at the end zone. The Seahawks will now move on to play the winner of San Francisco and Carolina in the NFC Championship game next week.

The good: The defense, the defense, the defense. As bad as the offense was for most of the game, the defense kept Seattle in front throughout. Michael Bennett forced two fumbles, and the Seahawks held an explosive New Orleans offense in check for the second time this season. It’s hard to make Drew Brees look like Andy Dalton twice. The Seahawks have been dominant down the stretch.

The bad: The offense. In short, it wasn’t very good. The Seahawks struggled big time in the third quarter, when they had a chance to really put the game away with a 16-0 lead. But their longest play went for 12 yards and they picked up just one first down in three drives. Wilson didn’t complete a pass in the quarter, and New Orleans largely controlled the line of scrimmage. New Orleans was playing with a shredded secondary because of injuries, and Seattle never really took advantage of that. The defense played well enough to turn this into a rout; the offense let the Saints stay in the fight.

Percy Harvin injury: Harvin left the game in the first quarter — on Seattle’s first drive actually — after taking a big hit. The trainers took away his helmet and he went to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. He returned shortly after and hauled in a contested catch, but he had to leave again when he took another hit while trying to make a catch in the end zone. This time, he did sustain a concussion and he didn’t return. His status for next week’s playoff game is unknown.

The big picture: The Seahawks are just one game away from the Super Bowl, their goal all season.

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