SEATTLE (AP) — Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes, Michael Bennett returned Drew Brees' fumble 22 yards for a touchdown and the Seattle Seahawks led the New Orleans Saints 27-7 at halftime Monday night.
Seattle can wrap up a playoff berth with a victory over the Saints, and the matchup between the top two teams in the NFC was anything but competitive in the first half. A win for either team would be critical in the race for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Wilson threw for 226 yards in the first half with touchdowns to Zach Miller and Doug Baldwin. The Seahawks had 315 yards of offense, 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.
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 the half 13 of 16 for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson and the Seahawks quickly answered back. 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.
The Seahawks weren't finished. After another Saints three-and-out, Seattle began its next possession from the 12 with 2:05 left. Wilson made plays with his arm and legs as Seattle marched quickly downfield. With 18 seconds remaining, Wilson hit Baldwin with a 4-yard touchdown pass.