“This was us,” Brees said. “Rhythm. Tempo. We did a great job.”
Bush gained 141 yards, Brees threw for 246 and receiver David Patten had eight catches for 113 yards on a breakout day for New Orleans (1-4), which hadn’t scored more than 14 points in four dispiriting losses that brought back chilling memories of all those failures of the past.
In this one, the Saints had three touchdowns by the middle of the second quarter, led 28-10 at halftime and were coasting by the fourth quarter.
For at least one evening, they can focus on something other than getting off the schneid. One possible topic: Can they join the 1992 Chargers as the second team to make the playoffs after starting 0-4.
“It feels good to come in after the game and see a smile on everyone’s faces,” Patten said. “Hopefully we can hang onto this and keep this going.”
And the Seahawks?
The three-time defending NFC West champions must go directly back to the drawing board after a second straight poor effort—this coming a week after a 21-0 loss at Pittsburgh.
Shaun Alexander ran for 35 yards on 14 carries, hardly making good on coach Mike Holmgren’s vow last week to fix the troubled Seattle running game. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 362 yards, his most since December 2004, though most came with Seattle (3-3) trying to overcome a three-touchdown deficit.
“We’ve got a lot we can correct, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” Hasselbeck said.
The ugliness, and the booing at Qwest Field, started early when newly acquired long snapper Boone Stutz skidded one back to punter Ryan Plackemeier, who couldn’t field it. Pierre Thomas scooped up the loose ball and scored for a 7-0 lead.
“Not a great way to start off the game,” Stutz said. “I’ve never had one get away from me like that.”
Bush took over for the rest of the first half. Coach Sean Payton told Seattle media he hoped to limit his star running back to 25 touches if he could, but for a while, it looked like Bush might reach that mark by halftime.
He finished with 97 yards rushing and 44 receiving on exactly 25 touches, almost all the damage done in the first two quarters. The Saints spent the second half moving the ball and taking time off the clock.
“He showed his speed and quickness,” Holmgren said of Bush. “He showed he’s a fine back. He got around us. He cut back. It’s too hard to come back, as a rule, when you dig a hole like that for yourself.”
Trailing by 11, Seattle twice moved into New Orleans territory in the fourth quarter. Those drives ended with an interception by Josh Bullocks and with a Hasselbeck incompletion on fourth-and-9.
Brees, who came into the game with one touchdown against a league-high nine interceptions, threw for two scores without a pick this time. His prime target was Patten, a free-agent pickup this season who came in with a total of five catches.
New Orleans went 7-for-14 on third-down conversions, though none of those successes said more than one that led to its second touchdown.
On third-and-10 in the first quarter, Brees hit Patten for first-down yardage, but a big hit popped the ball loose. It squirted 15 yards up the field and was surrounded by Seattle defenders. However, Saints tight end Eric Johnson hustled downfield, shouldered his body into the pile and came up with the loose ball, turning a possible turnover into a first down in Seahawks territory.
“I just busted my butt to get down there,” Johnson explained.
Bush ran for 19 and 14 yards to move New Orleans toward the goal line, then Brees hit Johnson for a 3-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
The Saints defense collected five sacks, including two from blitzing safety Roman Harper. Despite his big numbers, Hasselbeck was harassed all day, throwing off his back foot, hardly looking like the Super Bowl quarterback he was only two seasons ago. He played without either of his opening-day receivers, Deion Branch and D.J. Hackett, or fullback Mack Strong, who retired last week due to a spinal cord injury.
“Our record is what it is,” Holmgren said. “There are logical reasons, honest reasons why we’ve lost games. There’s only one thing to do: Roll up your sleeves and work hard.”
Among the few bright spots for the Seahawks, who were booed lustily all night long by the home crowd, are that they are still tied for the lead in the bad NFC West and have another home game against a winless team, St. Louis, coming up next week.
The game was delayed for about 10 minutes early in the first quarter when the NBC overhead camera crashed to the turf during a timeout. It nearly clocked Hasselbeck and receiver Bobby Engram as they were walking toward the sideline.
“That’s total access right there,” Hasselbeck joked.
It was hardly the worst thing the Seahawks endured on this night.
^Notes: Alexander has 60 yards over his last two games, his lowest two-game output since Nov. 10 and 17, 2002, when he gained 60 yards against Arizona and Denver. … Struggling Saints kicker Olindo Mare didn’t have to attempt a field goal. He remains 3-for-7 this year. … The Seahawks don’t play a team that currently has a winning record for another nine weeks.