Monday, January 13, 2014

Takeaways: Seahawks Escape Saints’ Grasp

By Jackson Safon

The Seahawks grinded out a 23-15 win against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday and then watched the 49ers manhandle Cam Newton in the second half of that game to collect a 23-10 win against the Panthers. This means that it will be Seahawks vs. 49ers 3.0 this Sunday for the NFC Championship. There is little doubt in anyone’s minds that these are the two best teams in the NFC and on Sunday, at 3:30 Pacific Time, the Clink will be rocking as the divisional foes face off for a trip to the Super Bowl. Looking ahead to that game comes later in the week however as first a serious conversation needs to be had about the Seahawks game against the Saints.

Steven Hauschka came up clutch once again for the Seahawks.

1. Umm…trust in Russ?
Russell Wilson was 9/18 throwing for 103 yards through the air and only contributing 16 more on the ground. In Wilson’s professional career this was his worst game in terms of passing yards and fifth worst game in terms of completion percentage. The passing game was stagnant throughout the entire game and Wilson only had two completions in the second half. Two. That is not to say the struggles in the passing game were all his fault however, as the receivers failed to get consistent separation, the offensive line played sub-par, and the weather was a huge factor. That being said, it was arguably the worst we have ever seen Russell Wilson play and it is coming at the worst possible time. The early forecast for Sunday’s game is mid-40’s and a 40% chance of rain. It shouldn’t be as bad as this past weekend, but shouldn’t the weather at home be working in our favor instead of against it? I believe Wilson will be able to turn it around, but if he can’t, there is virtually no way that the ‘Hawks beat the Niners.

2. Marshaaaaaaaaawn Lynch!
Beastmode was in full effect on Saturday to the tune of 140 yards and two touchdowns for Lynch including the nail-in-the-coffin 31-yard touchdown run at the end of the game that registered on the Richter scale. Lynch was basically the entire offense on Saturday and he will have to have a similar performance on Sunday against the 49ers. Maybe it was the unveiling of the “Beast Burger” at Century Link (if you haven’t seen it, look it up hint: it is served with skittles), or perhaps it was the Top Pot Donuts he ate before the game. Whatever the reason, Lynch came to play in a big way, something he had been struggling to do at the end of the regular season. With the passing game struggling as mightily as it is, expect to see Lynch with another full workload this weekend.

Marshawn Lynch had yet another dominating performance against the Saints on Saturday.

3. Dougie Fresh
Doug freaking Baldwin came up with another huge play on Saturday as he has done all season for the ‘Hawks. Late in the game when we needed it most, Russell Wilson delivered a dime of a throw down the left side line and Baldwin showed incredible body control twisting to get both feet down and essentially ice the game. Baldwin has come up big for the Seahawks time after time and with Percy Harvin unable to stay healthy it can be argued Baldwin is the most complete receiver for the ‘Hawks right now. Wherever he ranks, it is clear he has the clutch gene and I expect to see a couple more big catches against the 49ers.

4. Tale of two halves for the defense
In the first half, Drew Brees was awful, missing throws by a lot and was clearly rattled by the weather as well Seattle’s defense. In the second half however the Seahawks’ defense couldn’t get any pressure on Brees and he picked apart the secondary like it was practice. He finished with 309 yards and no interceptions which is something Earl Thomas and the Legion of Boom cannot be happy about. Colin Kaepernick is no Drew Brees when it comes to throwing the ball, but if the defense plays as lackluster as it did in the second half against the Saints, watch out.

5. Saints go marching out, 49ers come rushing(?) in
It is time for the rubber game. Seahawks vs. 49ers 3.0. This time there is a lot more than a division title on the line however as the winner obviously gets a trip to New Jersey to play in the Super Bowl. There is no doubt it will be a hard-fought game and it will be much closer than the two previous blowouts at the Clink. A playoff preview will be coming later in the week, but expect a tight one in Seattle on Sunday.

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