For most defenses, holding Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch to 45 rushing yards on 16 carries qualifies as a very good night.
And when you happen to be a team that gave up one of the most famous runs in NFL history, Lynch’s 67-yarder in the 2010 playoffs, then holding Lynch to 2.8 yards per carry, no touchdowns and no runs longer than 14 yards is nothing short of great, right?
Well, on a night when quarterback Russell Wilson lit up the Saints for 310 passing yards and three touchdowns, putting so much effort into stopping Lynch might not have been such a good thing after all.
“They definitely played the run well tonight,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “We didn’t run the ball as well as we would have liked, but it allowed us to hit a bunch of other stuff.”
When the Saints put all their effort into stopping Lynch on a third-and-1 run in the first quarter, they forgot about tight end Zach Miller, who ran free for a 60-yard gain.
“Knowing the way they play and how aggressive they were going to play — Rob Ryan, that’s just how he is as a defensive coordinator — we knew it could pop open,” Miller said.
Three plays later, the focus was again on stopping the run when Wilson found Miller for a 2-yard touchdown pass.
Wilson also hit Doug Baldwin for a 52-yard gain on a check at the line of scrimmage where Wilson and the rest of the offense recognized a defensive look they had seen on film. Baldwin beat one-on-one coverage, Wilson delivered a perfect pass, and another scoring drive was underway.
And on a night when the Seahawks were again without receiver Percy Harvin, who has played in only one game, and receiver Sidney Rice, who is out for the year with a knee injury, their “other” receiver stepped up again. Baldwin had 77 yards on four catches, while fellow undrafted receivers Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette had big catches of their own for 19 and 33 yards, respectively.
“When you’ve got a guy like Marshawn Lynch back there, they’re going to do things to try to take him away from our offense,” Baldwin said. “We’ve got to be able to make plays as receivers and outside playmakers so that they can’t do that; that they have to account for us on the outside. I thought we were able to do that today.”
Then, of course, there was Wilson, who more and more is looking like one of the NFL’s best players, not just one of its best young quarterbacks. Facing off against his football hero, Drew Brees, it was Wilson, not Brees, putting up the huge numbers, completing 22 of 30 attempts for 310 yards and a 139.6 rating.
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is known for bringing pressure, but on Monday Wilson punished the Saints for it.
“We like the pressure, because there’s a lot of green grass behind it,” Wilson said.