Halftime: Seahawks leading the Saints 24-20

Matt Hasselbeck’s third touchdown pass of the first half, a 45-yarder to Brandon Stokley, gave the underdog Seattle Seahawks a 24-17 lead over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in their NFL wild card playoff game today at Qwest Field.

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The Hasselbeck-Stokley touchdown came with 1:15 left in the half, and gave the Seahawks the lead after they twice trailed the Saints by as many as 10 points.

After spotting the Saints an early 10-0 lead, Hasselbeck hooked up twice with tight end John Carlson, and Olindo Mare kicked a 29-yard field goal.

Mare’s field goal tied the score eight plays after the Seahawks’ Raheem Brock caused and David Hawthorne recoverd a fumble by the Saints’ Julius Jones at the Seattle 44.

Earlier, Hasselbeck passed seven yards to Carlson with 11 minues left in the second quarter, one play after he lofted a pretty 39-yard pass to Cameron Morrah to set the Seahawks up at the Saints 7.

The Saints had taken a 17-7 lead when Julius Jones scored on a five-yard run. The Saints marched 83 yards in 10 plays. Jones, released by the Seahawks earlier this season, carried three times for 23 yards in the drive, including a 15-yard run.

After the Seahawks fell behind 10-0, Hasselbeck passed 11 yards to Carlson for a touchdown, completing a six-play, 57-yard drive. Hasselbeck completed all four of his passes for 36 yards during the drive, and Marshawn Lynch gained 16 yards on two carries.

Drew Brees passed one yard to Heath Evans for a touchdown 10 plays after New Orleans intercepted a tipped Hasselbeck pass, and the Saints stretched their lead to 10-0 in the first quarter.

Jabari Greer intercepted the tipped pass and returned it 13 yards to the Seattle 35. The Seahawks appeared to have stopped the Saints when Brees threw incomplete in the end zone on third and goal, but Seattle’s Walter Thurmond was called for interference.

That gave the Saints a first down at the one, and they scored on the next play.

Garrett Hartley kicked a 26-yard field goal on the game’s opening drive to give the Saints a 3-0 lead. After Mare’s kickoff went out of bounds, allowing the Saints to start at their own 40-yard line, they drove 52 yards in seven plays. Brees completed four of six passes for 35 . Reggie Bush dropped a pass inside the Seahawks five on third down that would have given the Saints a first down.