Costly turnover: The Saints committed the one error they knew they had to avoid most in the first quarter -- a fumble in their own territory that was returned for a touchdown. Quarterback Drew Brees held onto the ball a beat too long on third-and-5 and got hit from behind by defensive end Cliff Avril. Fellow end Michael Bennett caught the fumble out of the air and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead. Avril got around right tackle Zach Strief on the play.
Avoiding turnovers is easier said than done in the NFL. But heading into the game, the Saints knew it would be paramount to protect the ball against a Seahawks team that led the NFL with 26 takeaways. The start of this game was very reminiscent of the Saints’ losses to the similarly-built San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and 2012.
Everyone but Lynch: The Saints defense is doing a solid job against its No. 1 concern -- running back Marshawn Lynch, holding him to 40 yards on 11 carries. But Seattle is absolutely torching the Saints with play-action fakes and blitz-busters. The Seahawks completed passes of 60 yards to tight end Zach Miller and 52 yards to receiver Doug Baldwin when the Saints were bringing extra rushers. They burned the Saints on a play-action fake for a 4-yard touchdown pass to Baldwin before halftime. And quarterback Russell Wilson has run for three first downs himself.
Graham clutch: The Saints relied on go-to tight end Jimmy Graham on their only touchdown drive, completing a 20-yard pass and a 2-yard touchdown pass to him. But the Saints have gone three-and-out three times and had the turnover on another drive, so they aren’t moving the chains nearly as efficiently as hoped.
Crowd a factor: The “12th man” crowd is absolutely living up the hype. The Saints came prepared with custom-made ear plugs and sideline signs with pictures for signals (straight out of the Oregon playbook). But they were affected on at least one delay of game penalty -- if not other unknown miscues.
Also worth noting: There was a steady rain for much of the first half, with the temperature around 40 degrees at kickoff. ... There’s plenty of chippiness between these two teams. There has been a lot of jawing back and forth after plays, and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was penalized for a cheap-shot hit against Saints receiver Kenny Stills away from the action.