BAYHAM: Helpless In Seattle

The Seahawks were not shy about reminding the Who Dat Nation how the Saints’ previous visit to the Pacific Northwest worked out (or rather didn’t work out).

Attached to an interstate support near the stadium was a framed painting of Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast Quake” run, vividly detailed with Saints defenders (the backside of Scott Shanle’s jersey was most prominent) on the turf.

Those Saints fans who didn’t pass this “street art” got to see it replayed on the stadium jumbotron during a break in the first half of the game.

In the 2010 season wild card playoff game, the Lynch run was the humiliation that defined the game; on Monday Night Football, the entire game was a giant humiliation, a total loss caused by failures on both sides of the ball and from the sidelines.

Ten days to rest, heal and prepare did the Black and Gold no good as they were embarrassed before a national basic cable audience, losing in Seattle 34-7.

Not even the chartered flight home went right as the team had to spend another night in a city they would rather not visit again, particularly in the playoffs.

The first quarter was as ugly as any I have ever witnessed under any head coach with the Saints unable to attain a first down until the last minute.

Someone compared the offensive line’s play to that of a turnstile, with the passing game suffering as a result and the ground game reverting to early season’s poor form.

The defense struggled to cover Seattle’s receivers despite Percy Harvin’s absence and quarterback Russell Wilson proved to be an elusive target for the Saints’ front seven as he danced and ducked around them. At one point I thought a Saints’ defensive lineman was going to twist his ankle trying to contain the juking Wilson.

Even the Seahawks’ fans outperformed the Saints players, with the famed Seattle 12th man in the stands appearing more ready for the game than the men with the gold helmets on the field.

They lived up to their reputation, bringing intense energy and thunderous volume that disrupted a bewildered-looking Saints’ offense.

With the loss, the Saints have little hope of receiving the first seed in the playoffs, as the Seahawks would have to lose their next four games while New Orleans would have to sweep the remaining games on the schedule.

Judging by both team’s performances, neither scenario is likely.

The road to the Super Bowl for NFC teams will go through the deafening confines of CenturyLink Field, a place where the Seahawks haven’t lost since Christmas Eve 2011.

Regardless of what happened in Seattle, the most important game on the schedule is this Sunday’s nationally televised flexed night against the hot Carolina Panthers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Having a tie-breaker against Seattle would have been meaningless if the Saints drop the head-to-head games against Carolina, presciently positioned by the NFL scheduling gurus at the end of the season.

Besides, possession of the second-best conference record as a wild card has never worked out well for New Orleans.

After Monday night, discussion about the Saints in the playoffs almost warrants an expression of Jim Mora-esque incredulity.

Much is on the line even if indications are that the Saints won’t go far in the post-season no matter who and where they play.

The Saints are still in a good position to win the division and lock up the two seed. The Black and Gold can claim the NFC South title by beating Carolina twice, splitting with them and beating the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or splitting with the Panthers and ending the season with the same record, as the Saints have the tie-breaker in conference wins.

The Saints can end up no worse than the bottom wild card spot (six seed) by winning one game and with at least one loss by Arizona and Chicago, both having dropped games to New Orleans earlier this season.

And the Saints can flop into post-season as 9-7 if the aforementioned lose at least two games.

What happens this Sunday night will largely determine whether Saints season ticket holders will enjoy at least a portion of those playoff tickets that just went on sale or if they made a substantial deposit on 2014 regular season tickets.

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