NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

NFL Nation: 2011 playoffs saints-seahawks rr

SEATTLE -- Thoughts on the Seahawks' 41-36 win against the Saints in the wild-card round:

What it means: Seattle pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in playoff history, knocking off the defending Super Bowl champs despite entering the game as the first division winner with a losing record. Seattle advances to the divisional round but cannot yet know where it will play next. If third-seeded Philadelphia defeats sixth-seeded Green Bay, the Seahawks visit No. 1 seed Atlanta. If the Packers beat the Eagles, Seattle visits No. 2 seed Chicago. The Seahawks already won at Soldier Field this season.

What I liked: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck played his finest game in years and his finest in a big game ever. The Seahawks protected him better than expected and Hasselbeck delivered by taking advantage of the Saints' overly aggressive defense. This was vintage Hasselbeck, only better. And with the Saints threatening late, running back Marshawn Lynch broke off one a 67-yard touchdown run that will rank among the all-time great runs in playoff history. At least five Saints players had a shot at Lynch during the run. His stiff-arm decked Tracy Porter toward the end of the run, clearing the way for Lynch to score.

What I didn't like: The Seahawks started poorly and easily could have been out of it by the end of the first quarter. And once they rebounded, they committed self-inflicted errors to give the Saints chances. They committed a delay penalty to blow a field-goal chance. They dropped passes and got a little tentative. The Saints finished with 474 yards.

Hindsight: Coach Pete Carroll's decision to start Hasselbeck over Charlie Whitehurst, despite injury concerns, worked out perfectly. Hasselbeck was rested after sitting out Week 17. He threw the ball decisively and with accuracy.

Big Revelation: The Saints' offense lacked balance given injuries at running back. New Orleans became one-dimensional and that allowed Seattle's pass rush to become more effective. That also allowed the crowd to become more involved.

Tomorrow's talker: Does this performance justify bringing back Hasselbeck as the starter in 2011 at age 36? Hasselbeck completed 22 of 35 passes for 272 yards with four touchdowns, one interception and a 113 rating. This was his second strong game against the Saints this season. Hasselbeck was particularly effective throwing deep downfield.

Breakthrough game: Seattle hadn't had a 100-yard rusher all season. Lynch rushed for 131 yards. He ran effectively throughout the game, not just on the long run. The balance put Hasselbeck in better situations.

Injuriy of note: Seattle lost middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu to injury late in the game. His status was not yet known.

What's next: Seattle heads to Atlanta or Chicago in the divisional round.

SEATTLE -- I’m heading down to the locker room for interviews and will be back with much more. But, first, here’s Rapid Reaction on New Orleans' 41-36 loss to the Seahawks.

What it means: There will be no "Two Dat." The Saints went on the road to play a 7-9 team and didn’t look anything like defending champions. There were flaws scattered throughout the season, but they all showed up Saturday. Injuries were a factor, but far from the whole problem. The defense had an absolutely horrible game and the offensive line didn’t play well at all. Drew Brees couldn't pull off any miracles without a running game. Give the Seahawks credit for pulling off a huge upset. But put plenty of blame on the Saints.

Goats: Take your pick. Roman Harper, Darren Sharper, Gregg Williams, Julius Jones and Devery Henderson. They’re all candidates. Harper got burned repeatedly. Sharper looked like it’s time to retire. Williams couldn’t come up with a way to stop a mediocre offense and that might cost him a shot at head-coaching jobs. Jones lost a fumble and Henderson dropped a crucial pass in the fourth quarter.

What’s next: Assuming there is no lockout, the Saints will start training camp in late July.

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