Friday, January 7, 2011
Final Word: Saints-Seahawks
By Mike Sando
Three nuggets of knowledge about Saturday's Saints-Seahawks wild-card game at Qwest Field:
Hasselbeck at home:Matt Hasselbeck's 4-5 record as a postseason starter includes a 4-1 mark in games played at Qwest Field. Although Seattle's 7-9 regular-season record differentiates this Seahawks playoff team from its predecessors, you might be interested in the raw numbers. Hasselbeck completed 61.1 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns, five interceptions and an 88.0 rating in home playoff games. He has completed 55 percent with three touchdowns, three interceptions and a 71.5 rating in postseason games away from Qwest Field. His home-and-away splits are nearly identical this season, however.
The Seattle Seahawks need to force Saints QB Drew Brees into the kind of bad passes that led to 22 interceptions this season.
Hands in the air: Disrupting Saints quarterback Drew Brees ranks high on the list of priorities for any opposing defense. Brees' quick decision-making puts defenses in a bind, even when they get pressure. What to do? Seattle had success against St. Louis in Week 17 by anticipating throws and batting passes near the line of scrimmage. The Seahawks might need more of the same Saturday. Brees had 28 passes either picked off (eight) or defended (20) by defensive linemen and linebackers this season, tied for fourth-most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Seattle's front seven finished the 2010 season with the third-most passes defended. Side note: NFC South quarterbacks had 12 touchdowns and four interceptions against Seattle this season.
Wrap and roll: The Seahawks' tackling has improved over the past few games after coach Pete Carroll asked players to adopt a technique he taught at USC. The basic idea: aim low, grab onto the ball carrier somewhere from the hip down, then spin and roll while wrapping up the legs. The approach might help the Seahawks' defensive backs hold up better. Cornerback Marcus Trufant suffered a concussion against the Saints when trying to tackle Chris Ivory. Safety Earl Thomas was shaken up during a collision with Saints receiver Marques Colston, who scored on the play.