NFL Playoffs
6:40 pm
Sat January 8, 2011

Seahawks upset Saints

The Seattle Seahawks sent shock waves around the NFL Saturday by beating steep odds and pulling off one of the biggest upsets in league history, defeating the defending Super Bowl-champion New Orleans Saints, 41 to 36. 

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw four touchdown passes, lifting the 'Hawks offense, tallying 272 yards in the air. It was Hasselbeck's best passing performance in a playoff game. 

After trailing the Saints early, the Seahawks stormed back in the 2nd quarter to lead 24-20 at halftime. Seattle continued to dominate play in the 3rd quarter. Steve Rudman of Sportspress Northwest reports that's when it looked like a classic Saints comeback was unfolding:

The momentum quickly swayed to New Orleans, which trailed 34-20 entering the fourth quarter. Led by Brees, the Saints marched relentlessly down the field, scoring on a four-yard run by Jones to make it 34-27. After Seattle went three-and-out on their next two possessions, the Saints made it 34-30 with a field goal.

With a little over three minutes remaining on the Seahawks' next possession, running back Marshawn Lynch muscled his way through Saints defenders for a 67-yard touchdown run thrilled the fans at Qwest Field.  

The Seattle Times' Danny O'Neil writes Lynch's remarkable scramble clinched the victory:

If ever there was an exclamation point, Lynch delivered it (during the 67-yard run) with a one-armed shove that knocked Saints cornerback Tracy Porter 5 yards backward. And once Lynch reached the end zone, it was clear that these Saints, the defending Super Bowl champions, had been KO'd by a punch no one saw coming.

Seattle defied 10-point odds and criticism over having the worst record of any NFL team to ever make the playoffs (at 7-9) with its decisive victory. 

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, the 2010 Super Bowl MVP, was stellar in defeat: 404 yards passing and two touchdowns. Brees made a beeline for Hasselbeck as the games final seconds ticked away to congratulate his opponent.

The Seahawks will face either Chicago or Atlanta in the next round of the NFC playoffs, depending on the outcome of Sunday's Green Bay-Philadelphia wildcard game. If the Packers win, Seattle will play at Chicago. An Eagles win will send them to Atlanta to meet the Falcons.