Seattle's best: Seahawks brew up stunner vs. Saints

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08: Wide receiver Mike Williams #17 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after catching a 38-yard third quarter touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08: Wide receiver Mike Williams #17 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after catching a 38-yard third quarter touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) (Jonathan Ferrey)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 9, 2011

SEATTLE - In the days leading up to Saturday's game, the Seattle Seahawks were barely an afterthought in these playoffs, undeserving of a home game in the wild-card round, the critics said, and essentially serving as a minor obstacle for the defending Super Bowl champions.

"That's all right," said Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. "The only thing that matters is that we believe in our group. Within us, we believed that we could do it and we did it."

In one of the biggest postseason upsets the NFL has seen, the New Orleans Saints were eliminated in the wild-card round of the playoffs Saturday, losing losing 41-36 to a Seahawks team that struggled to post seven regular season wins and backed into the playoffs by finishing atop its calamitous division.

The Seahawks are no longer a 7-9 team, though. With Saturday's surprising win, they're 1-0 in the season that matters most, the postseason, and suddenly as confident as any team left standing.

"We are not going to be intimidated by whomever we play or wherever we go," said first-year Coach Pete Carroll. "I promise you that. It's not going to happen."

The Seahawks became the first NFL team with a losing record to win a playoff game. Oddsmakers had pegged them as 10-point underdogs, though they were playing at home at Qwest Field, one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL.

If Philadelphia defeats Green Bay Sunday evening, the Seahawks will advance to play at Atlanta in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs next Saturday. If the Packers top the Eagles, Seattle would head to Chicago to face the Bears.

To Carroll and his players, next weekend's foe is apparently a small detail. "It doesn't matter who we're playing right now," Carroll said. "It just doesn't."

The Seahawks lost seven of their final 10 games in the regular season but with crucial wins each of the past two weeks - both essential to extending their run - players and coaches say they're coming together at the perfect time.

"When we needed it the very most, it seems like we're as together as we could be," Carroll said. "I don't care how it got there, the fact that it's there - cool. And we're going to go on and take on the next one."

Said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "I think our team is starting to come together in some ways that are special."

Hasselbeck, whose status had been in question for much of the week leading up to the game, was 22-of-35 passing for 272 yards and four touchdowns. With an expiring contract, the 12-year veteran knew Saturday's game could be his last at Qwest Field.


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