Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC: Seahawks oust Saints

SEATTLE — When he got around the edge, there was no one for Marshawn Lynch to hit. Directly ahead was open field, the end zone and the Seahawks' place in the NFC title game.

Lynch again overpowered the Saints in the postseason, this time 23-15 in a division-round game Saturday.

"That was maybe 'Beast Mode II,' " Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Lynch's nickname. "It was a very cool way to end that game."

Lynch carried 28 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns for the Seahawks, who host the winner of today's game between the 49ers and Panthers.

Lynch's clinching score, a 31-yard run with 2:40 left, lacked the explosiveness of his "Beast Quake" touchdown run in the 41-36 victory against the Saints in the 2010 playoffs — in which he broke several tackles on a 67-yard touchdown run.

He cut to the outside using blocks from tight end Zach Miller and receiver Jermaine Kearse. Lynch's only contact was a stiff-arm of cornerback Keenan Lewis.

"It's all want with him," Seattle receiver Golden Tate said. "He's blessed with tremendous athleticism and body control and power. But right there … he just wanted it, and he went and got it."

Said Lynch: "I don't run to get tackled."

Lynch's running made up for a shaky day of passing by Russell Wilson. He missed on five of his first six passes to start the second half. But on third and 3, he avoided a blitz and came through with a 31-yard completion to Doug Baldwin with 2:57 left.

Lynch scored the clinching touchdown on the next play.

"I knew they were going to bring everybody," said Wilson, who went 9-of-18 for a career-low 103 yards.

New Orleans scared Seattle late. Drew Brees, 24-of-43 for 309 yards, hit Marques Colston for a 9-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left. Colston then recovered the onside kick when it caromed off Tate.

Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham — his only catch of the game — for 8 yards to the Saints 49. After Brees spiked the ball, he found Colston at the Seattle 38 near the sideline. But instead of stepping out of bounds and leaving time for one more play, Colston threw across the field. It was a forward pass, and the penalty ran off the final 10 seconds of the clock.

Graham's lack of production was just part of the Saints' struggles. They were shut out in the first half for only the third time in Sean Payton's tenure as coach and first since 2011. Brees was held to 34 yards passing.

There was also running back Mark Ingram's fumble that was forced and recovered by former Bucs end Michael Bennett on the first play of the second quarter. Two plays later, Lynch scored his first touchdown and a 13-0 lead.

The Saints are just 2-3 in the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl in February 2010.

"You just don't know how many more opportunities you're going to have," Brees said. "That's what makes it so tough standing up here and talking about it."

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