Saints crush Seahawks, advance to next round…wait, what?

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck throws a second quarter touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Stokley as New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (R) pursues him during their NFC Wildcard playoff NFL football game in Seattle, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

On any given Saturday right? Here are six quick-hit thoughts on the Seahawks’ shocking 41-36 win over the Saints on Saturday.

1. That’s why they play the game.
Gregg Williams said it perfectly this week when he told the media that if the playoffs were about predictions, the Saints would have advanced to the second round already. Everyone was so sure that the Saints would beat the Seahawks that this upset was almost set up perfectly. I don’t buy that New Orleans took Seattle for granted because there’s too much veteran know-how on that Saints’ sidelines for them to look past any opponent. But a game like this is proof that we as fans get caught up too much in records. The Seahawks only won seven of their 16 games this year but they were the ones that created momentum last week with their win over the Rams, they were the ones that had home field advantage and they were the ones that played with an emotional edge. In the end, those three factors play a bigger role in the outcome of a football game than records do (especially in the playoffs).

2. Matt Hasselbeck can still be a difference maker.
Hasselbeck had some rough games this year but when his team needed him the most, he completed 22-of-35 pass attempts for 272 yards and four touchdowns. He was intercepted once but that came off a deflection and had his receivers not dropped a few passes, his numbers would have been even better than they were. This was by far his best game in years and without his performance, Seattle doesn’t pull off this shocking upset.

3. Roman Harper, Darren Shaper, Gregg Williams, Julius Jones and Devery Henderson.
Fail, fail, fail, fail and fail. That was one of the worst performances I have ever seen out of a safety tandem in any game, not to mention in the postseason. Safeties are supposed to act as a team’s last line of defense, yet Sharper and Harper routinely allowed Seattle receivers to get past them deep coverage. I know the Saints were hurt by Malcolm Jenkins’ injury but Sharper has to play better than that. He looked like he had never played a professional game before and retirement is calling his name. And how about Williams? This was the best he could come up with after a week of preparation? The Seahawks’ offense is the epitome of mediocre and yet they hung 41 points on a unit that was supposed to be one of the best in the NFC. Holy terrible, Batman. Offensively for the Saints, Jones cost his team three points by fumbling the ball deep in his own territory in the first quarter and Henderson couldn’t catch a cold. He dropped at least two potential first downs, including an alligator-armed attempt late in the game when the Saints only needed a touchdown to re-claim the lead.

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Pete Carroll putting imprint on Seahawks, trades for LenDale White & Leon Washington

One of the reasons Pete Carroll left USC for the Seattle Seahawks in mid January of this year was because he would have the authority to determine how the franchise played football. In other words, Carroll could wipe the slate clean and bring in the type of players and staff that he wanted for his team.

On Saturday, the Seahawks acquired running backs LenDale White (Titans) and Leon Washington (Jets) in two separate draft day trades. In the acquisition of White, Seattle swapped fourth and sixth round picks with Tennessee and also acquired defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. In the acquisition of Washington, the Hawks sent the No. 138 pick to New York and also received a seventh-round selection in the process.

White has been chopping at the bit to get out of Tennessee and now reunites with the head coach that best found ways to utilize him on the field. While at USC, Carroll used White as his physical, early-down masher and he’s expected to use the running back in a similar role in Seattle.

Many draft pundits thought that the Seahawks would draft C.J. Spiller with one of their two picks in the first round. But after acquiring Washington from the Jets (which was a steal), they got a cheaper player with a similar skill set to that of Spiller. Plus, by not drafting Spiller, the Hawks were able to nab the top rated offensive tackle in the draft in Russell Okung and the second best safety in Earl Thomas. Washington and White should work very well together in Seattle, albeit at the likely expense of Julius Jones.

It still remains to be seen whether or not Carroll can succeed in the NFL like he did at SC, but one thing is clear: he’s going to construct his team the way he wants.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Fantasy Football Quick-Hitters: Peterson, Benson, Slaton and Julius

Adrian Peterson limited in practice. His ankle is bothering him. This could just be precautionary or there might be a real possibility that he’ll miss Week 12. Keep an eye on the Vikings injury report. If he’s listed as “probable” his owners can breathe a sigh of relief. Chester Taylor obviously becomes starter-worthy if AP sits.

Cedric Benson “ready to play” but still iffy? Marvin Lewis said he was ready to play but was noncommittal about Benson’s availability for Sunday. The Bengals face the Browns, so if Benson sits another week, then Bernard Scott becomes a terrific start. Cincy may want to give Benson another week of rest if they think they can win with Scott carrying the load.

Slaton continues to start; Chris Brown will see time. So much for Ryan Moats turning into a stretch-run starter. It appears the Texans benched Slaton for motivation, but know that he’s their best RB. The Indy rush defense is so-so, which makes Slaton a decent RB2 start this week.

Julius Jones back at practice, but limited. Justin Forsett will get some work whether or not Jones returns this week, but he’s obviously a much better play if Jones sits out. The Rams are pretty bad against the run, so if the two share RB duties, they’re both decent flex starts.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Fantasy Fallout, Week 7: RBs

LT2 did some damage in PPR leagues (with six catches), but he totaled 67 yards on 20 touches and failed to score. After his Week 9 bye, he has four nice matchups over the next six weeks, but that might be too late for his owners to make a run…Reggie Bush (10 touches, 60 yards) is out for the next 3-4 weeks with a meniscus injury in his knee. This is the downside of drafting Bush. Deuce McAllister looks like he will get the bulk of the work in his absence…Chris Johnson (20 touches, 172 yards, TD) and LenDale White (18 touches, 156 yards, 3 TD) both went nuts against the worst rush defense in the league (KC)…Willis McGahee (21 touches, 152 yards, TD) is still RB1 in Baltimore when he can play…Ronnie Brown’s (14 carries, 28 yards) schedule is pretty easy from here on out, so if you might want to buy low after a bad game against the Ravens…Steven Jackson (27 touches, 176 yards, 3 TD) ran like a madman this week. He’s definitely back in must-start territory…Ryan Grant (33 touches, 117 yards, TD) looked pretty good against a very bad Colts rush defense. His schedule isn’t very favorable over the next several weeks, so you might want to think about selling high…Thomas Jones (25 touches, 159 yards) is looking good and he has a favorable upcoming schedule. It might not be a bad idea to try to snatch him away from an unsuspecting owner…Clinton Portis (28 touches, 183 yards, TD) is looking like a top 5 back. He shrugged off a hip flexor to post big numbers against the Browns…Jamal Lewis (20 touches, 98 yards) played better than his stats would indicate. He almost scored on a catch and had a couple of goal line opportunities, but the Browns’ line failed to get the necessary push…Julius Jones (8 touches, 37 yards) and Maurice Morris (8 touches, 68 yards) are back in a timeshare now that Morris is healthy again.

Seahawks light up winless Rams 37-13

The Seattle Seahawks rebounded from their 33-30 overtime loss last week to beat NFC West rival St. Louis 37-13 on Sunday.

It was over when…
T.J. Duckett scored on a 1-yard run with 8:39 left in the fourth quarter. The touchdown capped a 15-play, 86-yard drive to give the Seahawks a 21-point lead.

Game ball
Running back Julius Jones’ 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave the Seahawks a 17-0 lead. Jones finished with 140 yards rushing.

Key stat
The Seahawks rushed for 240 yards, while holding The Rams to just 65 yards on the ground.

Seahawks running back Duckett had his first two-touchdown rushing day in four years. … St. Louis lost for the 16th time in 19 games, and have lost seven consecutive games to Seattle. … The Seahawks avoided starting 0-3 for the first time since 2002.

I know it was against the Rams’ defense, but how good did Julius Jones (22 carries, 140 yards, 1 TD) look? Maurice Morris’s injury has opened the door for Jones to be the feature back and he hasn’t disappointed. Amazing how productive Mike Holmgren’s offense can be with a running game. Matt Hasselbeck even looked good for the first time this season, completing 12 of 20 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown.

There isn’t much you can say about the Rams. They easily rival the Chiefs as the worst team in the NFL and at least KC has an excuse as to why they’re so bad; Tyler Thigpen is starting at quarterback for Larry Johnson’s sake. St. Louis is this bad with a healthy Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson and Torry Holt. Amazing.

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