SEATTLE — It’s late in the third quarter of The Greatest Regular Season Game in Seahawks History, Part II, and the Seattle defense is dancing beneath a 34-7 scoreboard.
A loop of rapper Rick Ross proclaiming “These haters can’t hold me back!” blares through the CenturyLink Field speakers, and the Seahawks are singing and bouncing and waving their arms, playing around as if at recess, unconcerned about one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.
They’re in their own world, again. In another marquee matchup, it seems the Seahawks are playing at a level that only they can reach. They’re hosting an exclusive party, fun for all invited, except for the whippin’ fodder known as their opponent.
New Orleans, the second-best team in the NFC, was the victim this time. The Saints came to Seattle with a 9-2 record and top-five NFL rankings in both offense and defense. They left with a 34-7 loss branded on them.
“When it’s going good, it’s going good,” Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant said, grinning.
Welcome, NFC, to a mind-numbing, eardrum-bursting reality: If the road to the Super Bowl goes through CenturyLink Field — and it will unless the Seahawks implode — then prepare to be a piñata for the Seahawks’ amusement.
It’s not impossible to win here. It’s just the highest level of improbable that anyone can conceive. That’s how good the Seahawks are at home. That’s how good they are in general.
Before a national audience on “Monday Night Football,” before a record crowd of 68,387 at The Clink that made the earth shake (again) and set a Guinness world record for loudest stadium (again), the Seahawks clinched a playoff berth, slid closer to the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a sent another message that they can be as dominant and explosive as any team in the NFL.
Without cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner, the Seahawks (11-1) still held the league’s No. 2 passing attack in check.
Without wide receiver Percy Harvin, the Seahawks still did whatever they wanted on offense as quarterback Russell Wilson exploited the Saints’ aggressive defense for big play after big play.
It all added up to the Seahawks’ most eye-popping victory since they beat San Francisco 42-13 here last December. The performance was superior to even the 29-3 beating they put on the 49ers here in September, during The Greatest Regular Season Game in Seahawks History, Part I.
If there were any lingering concerns about whether the Seahawks are as good as their record, they should’ve eliminated them Monday night. One knock was that they hadn’t played an elite quarterback all season. Saints QB Drew Brees certainly belongs in that category, and he could muster only 147 passing yards and a feeble 3.9 yards per attempt against the Seahawks.
The Seahawks harassed Brees early. Defensive end Cliff Avril, the king of the strip-sack, got to Brees and knocked the football out of his right hand. Michael Bennett grabbed the ball out of the air and rumbled 22 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Seattle lead. From that point, it was all Wilson magic — and dancing, of course.
Playing against his idol, Brees, for the first time, Wilson had one of his finest games in two seasons in Seattle. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He led the Seahawks with 47 rushing yards. He dominated from the pocket and while on the move, countering Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s aggressive play-calling with his quick feet and strong arm.
“We like the feeling of pressure because there’s a lot of green grass behind it,” Wilson said of having an answer for Ryan’s blitzing style.
Nine different Seahawks receivers caught passes, including touchdown receptions from Zach Miller, Doug Baldwin and fullback Derrick Coleman. Coleman’s catch in the third quarter, the final score of the game, indicated what kind of night it was for the Seahawks: Wilson threw a pass intended for tight end Kellen Davis, but it ricocheted off Davis’ hands and into the arms of Coleman, who fell into the end zone.
It was the 22nd victory of Wilson’s short NFL career. Over the past 63 years, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger is the only other quarterback to win that many in his first two seasons. And Wilson has four regular-season games to go.
You simply can’t beat the Seahawks when they’re playing like this. They outgained the Saints 429-188. It was an unfathomably dominant performance in a game long billed as a clash for the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
If the Saints are the second-best team in the conference, the NFC should start praying now.
“We’re the best,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “And we’re going to keep showing it.”