SEATTLE – Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, Michael Bennett returned Drew Brees’ fumble 22 yards for a touchdown and the Seattle Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints 34-7 Monday night.
Seattle (11-1) wrapped up a playoff berth with the victory in the matchup between the top two teams in the NFC. Seattle has a two-game lead over both the Saints (9-3) and Carolina Panthers for home-field advantage in the NFC. The Seahawks also hold the tiebreakers with head-to-head victories over both teams.
The Seahawks had 315 yards of offense at halftime, the second time in three games they have had at least 300 in the first half. They had a season-high 316 yards against Atlanta in Week 10. Wilson threw for 226 yards in the first half with touchdowns to Zach Miller and Doug Baldwin.
After Seattle forced a three-and-out on the Saints’ opening possession, Wilson hit fullback Michael Robinson for 21 yards, ran for 10 more and completed a pass to Golden Tate for 12 yards. New Orleans managed to hold inside the red zone, and the Seahawks settled for Steven Hauschka’s 26-yard field goal.
On the second play of the Saints’ ensuing possession, Cliff Avril knocked the ball from Brees’ hand as the quarterback prepared to throw. Bennett caught the ball and raced into the end zone.
After another three-and-out, the Saints left Miller uncovered as Wilson connected for a 60-yard gain to the 4. Three plays later, Wilson and Miller hooked up again on a 2-yard scoring pass.
Playing without two of its top three cornerbacks, the Seattle defense held the Saints’ high-powered offense to 90 yards. Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane stepped in for Seattle with Walter Thurmond serving a four-game suspension and Brandon Browner out with a groin injury.
Brees led New Orleans on a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. The Saints converted three third downs and picked up another first down on a penalty on the drive. Brees connected with Jimmy Graham for a 2-yard touchdown strike.
Graham has a team-record 12 touchdown receptions this season to tie Calvin Johnson for most in the NFL this season. Graham has already tied the NFL record for most 100-yard receiving games in a season by a tight end with six.
Brees finished with 147 yards passing. Graham had three catches for 42 yards. Graham was held without a catch against the New England Patriots in Week 6. He has caught at least three passes in every other game this season.
After New Orleans’ touchdown, Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 52-yard gain on third-and-3 from the 23 to move back into New Orleans territory, and Hauschka made a 20-yard field goal.