Rabalais: Saints don't show up for NFC showdown

Sleepless in Seattle? That one’s been done, over done really, and doesn’t fit what happened here Monday night between the Saints and the Seahawks, though I don’t imagine Sean Payton logged much sleep after this one.

How about Hopeless in Seattle, Steamrolled in Seattle, Shredded in Seattle? We’ve got a million of them, folks, or at least we can think up more than the total yards (188) recorded by the Saints.

One thing you won’t call this game is what it was being called beforehand: Showdown in Seattle. You have to show up to have a showdown, and the Saints did not.

Blame it on the Pacific Northwest cold, blame it on the rain (pardon me, Les Miles, the stiff, wind-driven dew), but New Orleans was never in this one.

If these were the top two teams in the NFL through 11 weeks, there’s no doubt who’s the best team after 12. Seattle was smothering on defense: The Saints managed just 188 total yards, including 147 yards passing by Drew Brees, the first time he’s thrown under 200 yards since the last game of the 2010 season.

I didn’t know it was possible for Brees to throw for less than 200 yards. For 15 minutes after the game, I thought in the stat booth spilled nacho cheese on their calculator.

Meanwhile, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sharpshooter accurate with his deep throws, at least when he wasn’t scrambling or running keepers away from the grasping-at-air Saints defenders. He rolled up 357 yards total offense (310 passing, 47 rushing), rendering New Orleans completely powerless to get off the field in crucial situations.

“We really had a blast tonight,” said Seattle’s delighted Pete Carroll, coaching’s answer to the Beach Boys. “All phases played well tonight.”

In Payton’s eyes, all phases of his team were dysfunctional.

“We didn’t do enough offensively,” Payton said. “We certainly didn’t do enough in converting third downs (6-of-15) and staying on the field. Defensively, we had problems stopping them. In the kicking game, I thought we were below average as well.”

For all the incredible stats from this Monday Night massacre, this tweet by ESPN’s Darren Rovell may be the most staggering of all: Former LSU and current Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn has made NINE times what Wilson has made the past two seasons on his comeback tour of the NFL.

Nine times? Nine times.

Somebody deserves a raise. And that somebody’s team deserves all the praise it can get.

This was statement-making domination by Seattle, pure and simple, complete and a touch superhuman. Even the crowd at CenturyLink Field was off the charts, setting what was claimed to be a world record for crowd noise at 137.6 decibels, which I believe an audiologist would tell you is the point where your brains start leaking out of your ears.

Not bad for a joint that doubles as a soccer stadium.

The stadium was quaking, literally quaking, when Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett plucked that Brees fumble out of midair and chugged 22 yards for the score and a 10-0 Seahawks lead. If an actual temblor had hit Downtown Seattle at that moment, you wouldn’t have been able to tell.

There was 6:27 left in the first quarter at that point, and the Saints’ defense had shown some moxie by holding Seattle to a field goal at the end of an impressive first drive. In the NFL, 10-0 leads melt like ice on a sunny sidewalk.

But on this night, in this place where the Seahawks have won a franchise record 14 straight home games, that score looked as big as nearby Mount Rainier and twice as hard to climb. On this night, this place also resembled the Roman Coliseum, with the aptly named Saints playing the role of the hapless Christians against the lions.

In other words, the Seahawks treated the Saints the way the Saints treat so many of their visitors to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Home is where the Saints head now to play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night. That rumbling sound the Saints heard as they flew east over the Rockies was the Panthers on a serious charge. Labeled an also-ran after a 1-3 start, the Panthers have won eight straight and caught the Saints atop the NFC South at 9-3.

With Seattle 11-1 and four games left in the regular season, the Saints need to reprioritize their goals. Seattle is two games plus a tiebreaker up on the Saints for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, a gap New Orleans is unlikely to close.

The goal now for the Saints: Hold off Carolina, win the NFC South and clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Then try to win their way back here, and figure out how they could possibly do something to close the gap on a team that on this night they simply were unable to keep pace with.

“They’re a great team,” Wilson said. “We’ll probably see them again.”

After the way this game went down, it was hard to tell whether Wilson praising the Saints or wishing for the chance to beat them a second time.