Bradley Handwerger / Eyewitness Sports
SEATTLE ― The lasting image from New Orleans’ 41-36 loss to Seattle in the Wild Card round of the NFC playoffs could be Seahawks running back right through and spin around eight Saints on his way to a 67-yard touchdown.
The run gave Seattle a 41-30 lead with 3:22 to play and all but ended New Orleans’ hopes of coming back to pick up its first road playoff win in franchise history.
“At that point, we were within a score,” New Orleans head coach Sean Payton said.” That took a lot of wind out of our sails. It was a great effort by him. Obviously there were some missed tackles.”
A play earlier, the Saints stuffed Lynch on a run at the right tackle for no gain and it appeared as if New Orleans had enough energy to stop Seattle one last time to give quarterback Drew Brees and the offense the ball back.
But Seattle’s offensive coordinator stuck with the run game – in fact, calling nearly the same play – and it paid off. Seattle ended the game with a 6.0 yard-per-carry average.
It paid off.
“We have shown the ability to tackle better than that, especially in a situation where we are trying to get our offense the football back,” Saints safety Darren Sharper said. “That was a beastly run by him. He had a lot more hunger than we did trying to bring him down.”
The run was indicative of New Orleans’ day in attempting to stop the run.
New Orleans ended the game giving up 149 yards on the ground, including 131 to Lynch on the ground.
“I think that we did a pretty good job of just popping three, four (yards) here, eight, nine there,” Lynch said. “I just think it was overdue for one of the running backs to have a long one and it just so happened that my number had gotten called and it was fun.”
In four of the final seven games, the Saints gave up 125 or more yards on the ground. But they hadn’t given up a 6.0 yard-per-carry average.
On Lynch’s run, the Saints tried to strip him of the football and that might have cost them in the end.
“You kind of live by it or you die by it,” Saints linebacker Scott Shanle said. “We made a lot of great plays this year by going after the ball and when they come out, they’re huge plays but when they don’t, you can have the potential for missed tackles.”