NFL: Seattle Seahawks are play-off bound after big win against New Orleans Saints
Last Updated: 03/12/13 2:45pm
Russell Wilson: Seattle quarterback served up Monday night masterclass
Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns as Seattle Seahawks became the first team to clinch a spot in the play-offs with a 34-7 victory over New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
The Seahawks (11-1) moved two games ahead of the rest of the NFC in the race for home-field advantage and hold the tie-breakers over New Orleans (9-3) and Carolina (9-3), the two closest pursuers.
Wilson was outstanding, picking apart the Saints' defence. He threw touchdown passes of two yards to Zach Miller and four yards to Doug Baldwin in the first half as Seattle built a 27-7 lead. Wilson added a pinball eight-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Coleman in the third quarter.
Michael Bennett had a 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter to give Seattle a 10-0 lead and the Saints never threatened.
Wilson completed 22 of 30 passes and finished with a quarterback rating of 139.6. He has 22 regular-season wins in his first two seasons, tied for the most ever by a second-year QB.
Drew Brees and the Saints were stymied the entire night as he lost for the first time on Monday after nine straight wins, and continued the belief New Orleans can't win outdoors late in the season.
New Orleans didn't crack 100 yards of total offence until midway through the third quarter. Jimmy Graham was nearly invisible outside of his franchise-record 12th touchdown catch of the season in the second quarter that pulled the Saints to 17-7.
Brees finished 23 of 38 for 147 yards. Graham had three catches for 42 yards. Darren Sproles led New Orleans with seven catches, many of those check downs.
The seven points were tied for the fewest scored by the Saints since Sean Payton became coach in 2006 and the 188 total yards were the fewest in his coaching tenure.
Seattle used the bye week to add wrinkles to its offence. Wilson was a threat not only passing but running with the zone read again becoming an addition to the playbook. Wilson carried five times in the first half, three of those designed keepers.
Pass with distinction
But it was his passing that stole the show. Wilson was 14 of 19 in the first half for 226 yards and a rating of 148.1. It was the second time in three games Wilson had thrown for at least 200 yards in the first half.
He found Miller open for a 60-yard catch-and-run to convert a third-and-one early in the second quarter, then capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Miller and a 17-0 lead.
Wilson later hit Doug Baldwin for 52 yards. Seattle had seven pass completions of 12 or more yards in the first half. The Seahawks finished with 315 first-half yards, the most allowed by the Saints in a first half since 2005 against Minnesota.
Wilson's night was so good, his passes that should have been incompletions ended up becoming touchdowns. Facing second-and-goal from the Saints eight, Wilson threw a pass intended for reserve tight end Kellen Davis. The ball deflected to Coleman for a score.