SEATTLE — There was no suspense.
No drama to match the playoff-level hype.
No defining play that will rival the 1.2 million YouTube views of Marshawn Lynch’s “Beast Quake.”
But the Seattle Seahawks’ dominance of the New Orleans Saints on Monday did provide one thing.
With Monday’s win, Seattle raised an already high bar. Now, anything short of the Super Bowl would be a flop bigger than Fosbury.
For the Seahawks, this past week saw many issues surface and questions arise. This was the type of season-defining win that answered them.
Which team will have home field in the NFC playoffs? Barring a catastrophic collapse, it’s Seattle.
Would Seattle’s defense struggle in the wake of suspensions to two of its defensive backs? Not a chance.
How would Russell Wilson perform in the biggest game of this regular season? Masterful.
The touch on his passes sweet as a beignet, Wilson poked more holes in New Orleans’ defense than a baker’s dozen of donuts.
His 310 yards were the second most of his career. At 22-for-30, Wilson completed more than 70 percent of his passes for the fourth straight game.
Monday, Bourbon Street had nothing on CenturyLink Field, which regained the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd noise Monday. At most, Seattle needs two more wins to wrap up home-field advantage in a stadium where Wilson has never lost.
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan might have the hair of a mad scientist, but he didn’t have the formula to neutralize a combustible Seahawks offense. A first-half explosion saw Seattle outgain the Saints 315-90.
It was domination on both sides of the ball. The Saints didn’t have a first down until the final play of the first quarter. Drew Brees was held to 147 yards passing, less than half of his per-game average.
It may look like the Seahawks play their best under the brightest lights. The players keep putting new spins on the “one game at a time” mantra.
“We don’t even think about the stage,” Richard Sherman said. “The field is still the same size.”
Before the specter of suspensions reared its head, injuries were the main concern for the Seahawks. Now Seattle is as healthy as it has been since the last time it played before a national primetime audience on Week 2 against San Francisco.
“When the offensive line got healthy it sent a surge of confidence for the whole team,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “Those guys are doing a hell of a job protecting Russell and letting him do what he does best.”
For Wilson, Monday is another step toward joining the elite class of NFL quarterbacks that includes his former idol and current rival, Brees.
Since 1950, only Ben Roethlisberger has as many wins in his first two seasons as Wilson now has. Big Ben has two Super Bowl rings. After Monday, Wilson’s career arc seems headed on the same trajectory.
After Monday, few will be surprised of Wilson doesn’t get a shot at a ring sooner rather than later.
Micah Rice is The Columbian’s sports editor. Reach him at 360-735-4548, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter col_mrice.