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Seahawks outlast Saints in NFL playoffs

By AAP .
12 January 2014 01:57PM EST

MARSHAWN Lynch ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns to spark the Seattle Seahawks over the New Orleans Saints 23-15 in the NFL playoffs on Saturday.

Seattle, which went 13-3 this season to earn a playoff home-field edge and a first-round bye, will host the winner of Sunday's Carolina-San Francisco game on January 19 in the National Conference final for a Super Bowl berth.

The Seahawks denied a late comeback bid by Saints quarterback Drew Brees and moved within one victory of their first trip to the Super Bowl since losing to Pittsburgh in 2006.

"It's only a first step but it's a hell of a first step," said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

New England was set to host Indianapolis in an American Conference match-up later Saturday with that winner to face either Denver or San Diego in next week's American Conference final for the other Super Bowl spot.

On a windy and rainy day, the Seahawks took support from their notoriously loud fans and improved to 16-1 at home in the past two seasons.

Lynch, who carried the ball 28 times, scored on a 15-yard run in the second quarter and Steven Hauschka kicked field goals of 26, 38 and 49 yards to give the Seahawks a 16-0 half-time lead.

That was the same score entering the fourth quarter, the Seahawks' NFL-best scoring defense leaving the Saints without a point through three quarters for the first time since 2002.

Khiry Robinson scored on a 1-yard run for the Saints and Mark Ingram ran for a 2-point conversion to halve the Seattle lead with 13:11 remaining.

The Seahawks answered with a late drive capped by Lynch's 31-yard touchdown run with 2:40 to play for a 23-8 lead.

Brees marched the Saints 80 yards in nine plays and flipped a 9-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston with 26 seconds remaining and Colston recovered an onside kick to give New Orleans a chance to win the game.

But Colston attempted an illegal forward pass after a reception three plays later and that penalty resulted in the final seconds being taken off the clock.

Brees completed 24-of-43 passes for 309 yards while Colston had 11 catches for 144 yards.

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