It was as stunning as any game in recent years. Seattle, decided underdogs with a 7-9 record going in, played the defending Super Bowl champions and took it to the Saints in a 41-36 victory. It was a classic example of the anything-can-happen-world of the NFL playoffs, and a great kickoff to the 2010 postseason. And it served as a reminder to all the formula of winning football: win the battle of turnovers, run the ball effectively, give your quarterback time to set up and throw the football and swarm to the ball on defense.
Welcome to the playoffs. Buckle up for a great ride.
We can discuss the Eagles-Packers matchups at greater length on Sunday, of course. Saturday was a night to settle in and watch football and enjoy the tension of the postseason. I, along with just about everyone else, figured the Saints would steamroll Seattle, wave goodbye to the under-.500 Seahawks and move on to Atlanta in the Divisional Playoffs round.
But the Seahawks had every intention of sticking around, and when they headed into the fourth quarter with a 34-20 advantage, with that Seattle crowd roaring, anything was possible. Beyond the X's and O's, what stood out for me was the crowd. The Seattle 12th man was absolutely tremendous, and all of that energy helped the Seahawks recovery from a poor start, a 10-point deficit and the odds that said they had no chance.
The loss knocked New Orleans out of the playoffs, of course, and alters the playoff field. An Eagles win over Green Bay sends Philadelphia to Chicago and Seattle to Atlanta. If any of you daydreamed of the Eagles hosting the NFC Championship Game against New Orleans, well, forget about it. There is no repeat for the Saints.
As for the X's and O's, the Seahawks went right after the New Orleans secondary, one weakened by the loss of Malcolm Jenkins, the best cornerback on the team. Seattle took quick drops and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck got rid of the football before the weak Saints rush -- aided by the blitz -- got to him.
The Saints were awful in the secondary, they tackled poorly and they played with not much enthusiasm after intercepting Hasselbeck on the Seattle's third snap from scrimmage.
And so the Seahawks won the game. Shocker. Stunning. A new Super Bowl king will be crowded in four weeks. The huge upset reminded us of many lessons, one that you can control: The crowd is important. Awfully important. The Seattle 12th Man was awesome and the Saints were clearly rattled in the late going.
So bring it, fans. Bring all of your love and your lungs and your desperation to Lincoln Financial Field for the 4:40 p.m. kickoff and help the Eagles beat Green Bay. It will come down to the usual -- turnovers, line of scrimmage, focus -- and those are things we can't control. But you can control the atmosphere. You can control the noise.
Be loud. Be proud. And help the Eagles stay alive in an already-thrilling NFL playoff tournament.