Three years ago, the 11-5 wild card Saints traveled to face the 7-9 division-winning Seahawks in the opening round of the playoffs. Looking to defend their Super Bowl title, it was one-and-done for New Orleans.
"We didn't play well," receiver Lance Moore said. "I remember it like it was yesterday. Just couldn't quite get over the hump in that game. And they made more plays than we did. They came out with great energy, which I though we did too, but for whatever reason, we just couldn't pull it out."
Head coach Sean Payton added, "That game kinda early on kinda went in one way, and then all of a sudden, turned around momentum, and we weren't able to overcome that."
Former Seahawk turned Saint linebacker David Hawthorne shared a more positive image of that day.
"I just remember being a team out in Seattle that everyone was saying wasn't supposed to be there," Hawthorne said. "It was like we were the Super Underdogs, and a lot of better teams had records better than us. We weren't supposed to be in that game. Then when we won it, a bunch of different things went into that, defense, Marshawn and the whole nine yards. It was one of those games where you were the Super Underdog and you pulled it off."
The low-light of the game for the Saints was Marshawn Lynch's highlight reel 67-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Lynch beat a half dozen saint defenders, and threw Tracey Porter out his way.
"You watch it, you admire it," Payton said. "You look closely to make sure you don't let that happen again. That's what's great about the playoffs. You have a chance to do things that can be remembered for a long time, and usually it's accompanied with a win."
Hawthorne added, "I think my reaction was just like everyone else. It was the first time you've seen something like that. As the run continued, it just got louder and louder and louder, until he scored, then everything just kinda erupted. So on the sidelines, that was for us to advance in the playoffs, so it was a good feeling."
Offensive lineman Jahri Evans downplayed the significance, "It is what it is, of course you remember. They play highlights of it all the time. We're not trying to relive those woes or losses, we're tying to go out there and get a W."
And now in 2013, the roles are reversed. Seattle is the heavy favorite, while not many are picking the visiting Saints to pull off the upset, but recent history is on the Black-and-Gold's side. Since 2005, a number six seed has knocked off a number one seed in six of eight meetings.
"It's kinda how the league goes," Moore said. "Any team can beat anyone on any given Sunday or Saturday."
Evans added, "It's the national football league. It's the best of the best, and that's what the post-season is all about. The best teams have made it there, it's the tournament. Every week you're playing the best teams, so you gotta bring your 'A' game every snap."