NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees passed for 265 yards and a touchdown, scored on a quarterback keeper, and the New Orleans Saints overcame several big plays by Seattle to defeat the Seahawks 25-20 on Sunday.
Much of the talk after the game, though, will be about the third team on the field -- the officials. Seattle was flagged 11 times vs. two for the Saints. Some of those helped keep Seattle's defense on the field over 36 minutes, one week after they spent 46 minutes on the field in Arizona.
While Seahawks fans may want to blame the zebras for the flags, head coach Pete Carroll is putting it squarely on his shoulders.
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“I really feel bad personally about this because my team is getting a lot of penalties the last couple weeks and it’s not any one position group necessarily. I just got to do a better job and I’m going to do that and we’re going to get this done,” said Carroll.
When asked by reporters about a couple of pick plays by the Saints which could have been flagged, Carroll sidestepped.
“I could sit here and gripe about stuff. I’m not going to do it," said Carroll, reiterating the Seahawks hurt themselves with 11 flags.
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The victory wasn't assured until the New Orleans' much-maligned defense, which entered the game ranked 29th in the NFL, came up with a stop on Seattle's final drive, which started on the Seattle 32 with 1:50 left. Wilson took the Seahawks to the New Orleans 10, where he had one final play. He lofted a pass toward the corner of the end zone, where Jermaine Kearse caught the ball, but landed out of bounds.
Wilson finished with 253 yards passing and was intercepted once by linebacker Nathan Stupar - a play that set up the Saints' first TD on Brees' 1-yard dive over a pile of players. Brees' lone touchdown pass went to Brandin Cooks on a 2-yard slant, which gave the Saints the lead for good early in the fourth quarter.
Wil Lutz kicked field goals, including one with just under two minutes in the game.
The Saints controlled much of the first half and held advantages in numerous statistical categories - such as yards (179-161), first downs (16-6) and time of possession (21:22-8:38) - but two big plays helped Seattle take a 14-13 lead into halftime.
One was Earl Thomas' 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown. After the play, an exuberant Thomas hugged an official and was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The penalty was assessed on the ensuing kickoff, but it did not result in points for the Saints.
The other big play was a trick play in which receiver Tanner McEvoy threw the ball 43 yards to C.J. Prosise to the Saints' 2-yard line. That set up Christine Michael's' short TD run, making it 14-3.
Seattle's defense also forced a field goal in the third quarter after the Saints had a first-and-goal on the 1.