Peephole perspective: Wow. Seahawks 24-20 at the half, as Matt Hasselbeck threw TD passes to TE John Carlson and WR Brandon Stokley.
Player of the quarter: Raheem Brock. The Seahawks’ “other” defensive end forced a fumble on Saints RB Julius Jones that LB David Hawthorne recovered to set up a game-tying field goal. Brock also played off a block by RT Jon Stinchcomb to drop Drew Brees for a sack – something the Seahawks were unable to do in their Week 11 loss to the Saints in New Orleans.
Play of the quarter: On third-and-3 from the Saints’ 45 with less than two minutes remaining in the half, Stokley got open on the left side behind the Saints’ coverage and Hasselbeck went to him for a 45-yard TD that gave the Seahawks the lead.
Number of the quarter: 141.3. That was Hasselbeck’s passer rating, as he completed 7 of 11 passes for 123 yards and the two TDs. He was 13 of 18 for 168 and three TDs in the half – compared to 16 of 27 for 189 yards and one TD for Brees.
The bigger picture: The Saints scored on the fourth play of the quarter, capping an impressive 10-play, 83-yard drive that started at the end that also consumed the final 3½ minutes of the first quarter. The TD came on a 5-yard run by former Seahawks RB Julius Jones, who is getting a lot of carries because the Saints placed Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas on IR during the week. Drew Brees was 4 of 5 on the drive for 52 yards, while Jones carried three times for 23 yards. The only third down on the drive was the TD run.
But the Seahawks answered, and quickly. Another Hasselbeck-to-Carlson pass got the TD – this time a 7-yarder – to cap a five-play, 70-yard drive. The big play came just before the TD, as Hasselbeck and TE Cameron Morrah combined for a 39-yarder to the Saints’ 7. Hasselbeck was 3 of 3 for 58 yards.
The defense then forced a three-and-out, as Brees’ third-down pass was pressured by DE Chris Clemons and incomplete as three Seahawks were surrounding intended receiver Marques Colston. But the Saints’ defense came right back with a three-and-out of its own as Hasselbeck threw incomplete on second and third downs.
On the very next play, however, Brock separated Jones and the ball, and Hawthorne recovered the first-down fumble at the Saints’ 18. The Seahawks settled for a 29-yard field goal by Olindo Mare, but it tied the score at 17. It was the Saints’ first turnover in their past three playoff games.
Brock wasn’t done. He ended the Saints’ ensuing possession with a third-down sack.
The offense then took over, and the Seahawks took the lead on the 45-yard TD pass from Hasselbeck to Stokley. The pass capped a nine-lay, 76-yard drive. Hasselbeck passed 15 yards to WR Ruvell Martin on third-and-11 and RB Justin Forsett gained the needed yard on third-and-1 during the drive. The TD pass came on third-and-3. Hasselbeck was 4 of 6 for 65 yards.
The Saints, however, weren’t done. Getting the ball with 1:10 left, Brees moved them to a 22-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley as time expired in the half. Brees went to WR Devery Henderson for 40 yards on the first play, passed to WR Lance Moore for 15 yards on third-and-10 an then ran for 6 yards on thid-and-5. Brees was 4 of 7 for 71 yards.