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Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks run past New Orleans Saints in NFL divisional playoffs

Running back Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks

Running back Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after he scores a 31-yard touchdown run against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter. (Jan. 11, 2014) Credit: Getty Images

SEATTLE - Russell Wilson gets a lot of attention as the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks.

On a day when Mother Nature kept him under wraps, though, the Seahawks demonstrated that they've built a pretty good team around him.

Marshawn Lynch went into Beast Mode, the defense was stellar all afternoon and the Seahawks fought through a downpour to knock off the New Orleans Saints, 23-15, in front of a sellout crowd Saturday at CenturyLink Field in an NFC divisional playoff game.

"This is that time," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll, whose team brought a 16-0 lead into the fourth quarter. "This is exactly why you make the commitment to be a balanced offense and a balanced football team, so that when you have these kinds of opportunities and situations, you can play 'D,' you can stick with your kicking game and come through and run the football.

"I think that's exactly the way that we'd like to draw them up."

With rain pouring down and wind whipping around most of the afternoon, Wilson was 9-for-18 for 103 yards.

Lynch, however, racked up 140 yards on 28 carries. He had a 15-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and his 31-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 40 seconds to play gave Seattle a 23-8 lead.

On that final run, he had a stiff-arm against Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis that was typical of his tough running style.

"It's a part of the game," said Lynch, who spent a couple of minutes with the media after the game only because he's obligated to do so.

Lynch was reprimanded by the NFL this past week for avoiding the media all season. His postgame answers were all short and soft-spoken, and after a couple of minutes, he said, "Thank you, I appreciate it" and ducked out of the locker room.

His teammates were more than happy to talk about him.

"That's what makes him one of the best, if not the best, running back in the National Football League," Wilson said.

Said cornerback Richard Sherman: "Marshawn Lynch is one of the best running backs in football. Every game he's going to have an unbelievable, just outside-of-his-mind play."

Lynch shouldered the load on offense and the Seattle defense came through once again, harassing Saints quarterback Drew Brees all day. Brees finished 24-for-43 for 309 yards and a touchdown but struggled most of the game.

During the regular season, Seattle led the NFL in fewest points allowed, yielding 14.4 per game. Their 34-7 win over the Saints on Dec. 2 was the only time in the past 97 games that New Orleans was held under 10 points, and Seattle nearly did it again Saturday.

New Orleans was scoreless at the half and didn't get on the board until Khiry Robinson's 1-yard touchdown run with 13:11 to play in the fourth quarter.

Still, the Saints had a chance in the final minute. Brees threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to former Hofstra star Marques Colston with 26 seconds left to cut the Seattle lead to 23-15.

Colston then recovered the ensuing onside kick. Three plays later, he caught a pass from Brees near the Seattle 37, but rather than stepping out of bounds and stopping the clock with seven seconds left, he turned and threw the ball across the field. Because it was a forward pass, the Saints were penalized and the game was over.

Asked if he thought Colston lost track of the time, Saints coach Sean Payton said, "We'll look at the film. Next question."

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