SEATTLE — Laugh all you want, the 7-9 Seahawks are going to the playoffs as champions of the NFC West.
Seattle is the first sub-.500 division champ, taking the title with Sunday night's 16-6 victory over St. Louis.
The reward: a home game Saturday with the defending champion Saints, who beat Seattle 34-19 in Week 11.
In his second career start, backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw a 4-yard TD pass to former Plant High star Mike Williams on Seattle's first drive. Whitehurst had never thrown a pass in five NFL seasons before this season.
"I'm so proud of him. This was a big deal, big stage for him," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
Olindo Mare kicked three second-half field goals including the clincher from 34 yards with 1:37 remaining.
Seattle's situation makes for great jokes from critics. And the oddsmakers at Glantz-Culver have the Seahawks listed as a longer shot to win the Super Bowl now (125 to 1) than they were at the beginning of the season (55 to 1).
"We didn't get here the way we all dreamed of getting here, but we got here," Carroll said. "When it came down to it, the guys played a great football game tonight."