RENTON, Wash. -- Many of the Seattle Seahawks players insisted they weren't really trying to make a statement Monday against the New Orleans Saints.
But that's exactly what they did with a 34-7 victory that not only gave Seattle a commanding advantage toward grabbing the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC, but also showed established anew that the Seahawks may be the team to beat in the NFL this season.
"I mean we just did what we've been doing, man," said cornerback Richard Sherman." I mean, I don't think that we made any statement. We won a game we were supposed to win and that's how we play, that's how we treat it. Now, we're on to the next game, we've got to deal with San Francisco. We didn't think about this game like everybody else did. We got a lot of big time players. There's no big-time games for big-game players."
The Seahawks, though, played like it was a big game, dominating from the start and taking a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, and 27-7 at halftime and cruising from there.
The victory clinched at least a wild-card spot in the playoffs with the victory.
Seattle, though, wants more, and can get the West Division title with a win Sunday at San Francisco, and can clinch home-field in the NFC with two more wins over their final four games.
"We're trying to get everybody to come to Seattle," said linebacker Bobby Wagner. "I don't think nobody want that."
No, they don't, as Seattle has proven almost unbeatable at home the past two seasons, winning 14 in a row at CenturyLink Field, most by comfortable margins.
Seattle outgained the Saints 429-188 in a game that was billed as a showdown between the two teams with the best records in the NFC.
But Seattle scored on all four first-half possessions and also got a defensive touchdown to turn the game into a rout.
Everything worked as Seattle's secondary helped hold the Saints to just 147 yards -- their lowest total since 2010 -- while the again-healthy offensive line helped Russell Wilson complete 22 of 30 passes for 310 yards and a staggering passer rating of 139.6.
"The media can take it any way they want to about making a statement," said receiver Doug Baldwin, who had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. "We just wanted to come in here and do what we do every week, just focus on us, control what we can control and come out of it 1-0. We focused on the task at hand, didn't worry about the stage that it was looked at, didn't worry about any of the distractions just focused on us."
-- WR Percy Harvin was inactive as he continues to battle a sore hip. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the team hopes Harvin can practice this week and play Sunday at San Francisco. He had a cortisone shot on the hip over the weekend, which the team hopes will help the recovery process. Carroll said again that Harvin has not suffered a re-injury or a setback but is merely sore from having played two weeks against Minnesota and not ready yet to return.
-- TE Kellen Davis, a third-teamer, was the team's only notable injury from the New Orleans game, suffering a neck injury of unknown severity.
REPORT CARD VS. SAINTS
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Russell Wilson had another fabulous night going 22-for-30 passing for 310 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions -- with one pass dropped that might also have been a touchdown. He is thriving now that he has more time to throw with Seattle's offensive line back to full health and his passer rating for the season is now up to 108.5. The receiving corps also had another good game with tight end Zach Miller turning in a 60-yard catch and run and Doug Baldwin a 52-yarder on a key third down. Jermaine Kearse also saw a career-high 57 snaps and had a big third-down conversion.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- This was the only area that was again a little bit of a statistical struggle for Seattle as the Seahawks had 127 yards on 38 carries, an average of 3.3 per attempt. It looked good early as Wilson had 47 yards on eight carries for the night, most of that in the first half. But Marshawn Lynch had a tough night with 45 yards on 16 carries, and he doesn't appear to be breaking as many tackles right now as he did earlier in the season. With the game well in hand, backup Robert Turbin got 11 carries for 34 yards. It was more than good enough to win, but Seattle likely will want more down the stretch, especially now with the offensive line intact.
PASS DEFENSE: A - The big question before the game was how the Seahawks would react without cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond. The Seahawks held one of the most dangerous passing attacks to 147 yards, the lowest total for the Saints since 2010. The pass rush was on all night and forced an early game-changing fumble return for a touchdown, and the secondary never allowed open receivers when Brees did have time to throw. One particular standout was linebacker K.J. Wright, who had the task of guarding Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and held him to three receptions for 42 yards.
RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Seahawks made sure that the Saints couldn't just turn to the running game when the passing game went awry, holding the Saints to 44 yards on 17 carries with none longer than 12. After a mid-season slump up front, the defensive line is playing well again, especially the tackle trio of Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A - Once again, Seattle held an opponent to zero punt return yards, and remains having allowed just 15 for the season. Kickoffs were also not a factor as Steven Hauschka had four touchbacks in seven tries. Hausckha also made both field-goal attempts.
COACHING: A -- Distractions due to suspensions? Rustiness from the bye? None of it was a factor as the Seahawks were ready from the start, jumping on the Saints to take a 17-0 lead and never letting New Orleans get back in the game. Pete Carroll is hitting all the right buttons right now in getting this team ready to play. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell unveiled a creative offensive plan to take advantage of some of New Orleans' blitz and get some big plays for Seattle, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn put in a plan that relied on the Seahawks' base coverages and overall talent. Right now it's all working.