Keys to the Game: Saints vs. Seahawks

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Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries the ball past Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) in the first quarter during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Control and More Control

One of the things I loved about the Saints victory last week was seeing smarter play calling. When the Saints beat you in yardage by running the ball instead of passing, it has to make you respect the offense just a little bit more. It’s not just about ‘gunslinging’. How many times did you honestly expect to see Drew Brees sneak for a first down? Talk about witchcraft.

Another big difference I saw from previous road games this season in which the Saints were trailing late was simply the team didn’t enter a panic frenzy. In many previous games, you would normally see Drew Brees pass, pass, pass, and pass to go for a win. However, the Saints didn’t have to worry about it against the Eagles. Five minutes left in the game, and the Saints only had fifty yards to go. They used all of the time. Most impressive.

I always preach it, but this week you can take it to the bank that I believe that the Saints have to get off to a great start in this game. Things didn’t go right from the start against the Seahawks in the Monday Night matchup, and the team found themselves in a 17-0 hole by the end of the first quarter.

Sean Payton and Pete Carmichael can take a page from the Cardinals victory over the Seahawks at home, and attempt to dominate the time of possession. In the first game, they lost the turnover battle (1-0), and the time of possession battle wasn’t even close. 33:38-26:22. Keep the Seahawks offense off of the field as much as possible, and don’t get cute with the game plan.

By controlling the clock, I believe that will help quiet the 12th Man for just a bit, but not permanently.

As far as the weather goes, everyone on the face of the Earth knows that it will be cold, and that rain will be in the area. We can’t preach enough about ball security. The Saints have prepared accordingly this week, doing everything from painting the Seahawks logo on the field, blowing out a couple of speakers to simulate crowd noise, and practice with wet footballs.

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