Tuesday, 04 January 2011 09:34
New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks: Injuries Could Play Big Role in Game
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Saints coach Sean Payton didn't give any details on his injured players when he met with the media on Monday.

The Saints play the Seahawks on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Seattle in the opening round of the NFC playoffs.

"The guys are getting treatment," said the coach. "We'll get them up to speed, get them healthy. We'll have to be real careful about how we practice this week and go from there."

Many of the starters were held out of action against Tampa Bay last Sunday as the Saints had already clinched a playoff spot and didn't want to get any more players injured.

"Again, I won't have anything to say in regards to any of these players right now regarding injuries," said Payton. "I was optimistic on Monday with the news in general and we'll get them up to speed and get them healthy as quick as possible."

Payton viewed the video of the Seahawks' 16-6 victory over the Rams. "They played real good team defense and they ran the ball better yesterday than they have in recent weeks. Those are two things that stood out."

The Saints will leave for that long trip to Seattle a day early, on Thursday. "We've done this a number of times," said Payton "It's a shorter week. We'd leave in the evening."

The Saints are playing in the first round of the playoffs this season after enjoying having a bye on opening week last season.

"It's different from a time standpoint," said Payton. "There's a lot of work we have to do today. When you play a Saturday game, there's a quick turnaround, but that being said, we're looking forward to the challenge.

"We know it's going to be a tough place to play. The crowd noise is as loud as it is in the league for an outdoor venue. We'll need to have a good week of preparation, weather included."

Payton and quarterback Drew Brees avoid calling games must win games. But this is a win-or-go-home game and how does Payton factor dealing with that now and the execution in Sunday's game?

"You make the corrections," said the coach. "You don't dwell on it. You point out specific things and work to correct things through practice. The one thing we've  been consistent with since we've been here, that whether it's a win or a loss let's look closely at what we're trying to do, what we didn't do as well as we liked and making those corrections."

The Seahawks (7-9) struggled much of the season, but beat the Rams to win the NFC West when their backs were against the wall.

"They had their back up against the wall and they came through with a big win," said Payton. "Once you get into the postseason, no one's really interested in how you got there. That's been the history of our league and they played very well last night in a game that was much like a playoff game unto itself."

Payton and the Saints have playoff experience and they know how to win in the postseason.

"In regards to playoff experience, there's a value to having it and yet it's not essential," said the coach. "We have a number of players in our locker room that have a number of postseason games played and can draw from that.

"Yet we've seen young teams play very well in the postseason and go on and have success. A lot was made a year ago of the lack of experience our team had. More than anything else, it's playing your best football at the right time, and that right time is now. It's eliminating all the things that can keep you from winning; playing turnover free football; playing well in the kicking game as well as offensively and defensively. That's the most important thing.

"Clearly everyone recognizes that you have to win to advance."

Even though the Saints have a 0-3 record in road playoff games, they don't look at Seattle's home-field advantage as a disadvantage. Neither do the Las Vegas oddsmakers who have established the Saints as 10 1/2-points favorites for their Saturday wild-card playoff game.

Qwest Field can be very loud and the weather could be a factor, but this Saints team doesn't know the difference home and on the road. They are 13-3 on the road over the past two seasons.

"If somebody had said to me after the Super Bowl, the Saints are going to be the No. 5 seed in the playoffs, I would have jumped on it," said Saints linebacker Scott Shanle.

Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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