Seahawks beat two tough opponents to get to the Big Game
Seattle finished their 2013 regular season at 13-3. Their average score was 26-14. They were held under 20 points just four times, and never less than 10. Conversely, they only allowed 20 or more points five times. Two of those scores were exactly 20, and only once did they surrender more than 30. The Seahawks three losses were by a total of just 15 points. Their average loss was by five points, their average win was by fifteen. They were primed for a great run, and they made the most of it.
First up, the New Orleans Saints returned to the site of the Beast Quake game in the divisional round. Finally, the Seahawks flipped their payoff script. Instead of falling behind early as they had so often in the past, this time it was Seattle that built an early lead. Stephen Hauschka, a heretofore unnamed hero of the Seahawks, drilled three field goals in the first half. Marshawn Lynch squeezed in a 15 yard touchdown run at the start of the second quarter, and it was already 16-0 at the half. The Saints cut the lead to eight early in the fourth quarter, but Lynch put the game out of reach with a 31 yard score. New Orleans score again with 26 seconds left, but the game was over.
The Hawks moved on to face the defending NFC champion 49ers in the conference championship. This would be the last game in which San Francisco lived up to their rival status until the inexplicable debacle in 2018. More than anything, this game is remembered for this reserved commentary by Richard Sherman at the end of the game:
Oops, spoiler alert: Seattle won. They had to come from behind once again, not gaining a lead until Wilson hit Kearse with a perfectly placed 35 yard bomb early in the fourth quarter. It was an excellent game, especially by the Seahawks defense. They shut down 49ers running back Frank Gore and held him to 14 yards on 11 carries. Colin Kaepernick was sacked twice and fumbled both times; Seattle recovered the ball on the second sack.
The Legion of Boom made him pay through the air as well, both in the fourth quarter. Kam Chancellor picked him off midway through the fourth quarter to stop one drive. With the game very much on the line, Malcolm Smith intercepted Kaepernick after Sherman tipped the ball away from Michael Crabtree in the end zone with just 22 ticks left on the clock.
The Seahawks did just enough on offense to win the game. The defense was excellent, although they could rarely contain Kaepernick on the ground. The Niners quarterback ran for 130 yards on 11 carries. That includes a 58 yard run that set up San Francisco’s first touchdown. Once this game was in the bag, Seattle’s defense wouldn’t have to worry about the next quarterback they’d face taking off like that. I don’t think he ran for 58 yards on the entire season.