SEATTLE (AP) — In the afterglow of advancing to the NFC championship game, Russell Wilson patrolled the Seattle Seahawks locker room making sure the message was still clear to his teammates.
"We haven't done anything yet," Wilson said. "That's our goal, we have 60 minutes of football left. I was talking to some of the guys in the locker room, I was talking to Coach Carroll, I was just kind of sitting there. You have 60 minutes left of football, 60 minutes of your life, the best 60 minutes that you can possibly play, and then you play in the Super Bowl."
The Seahawks are one step from the Super Bowl because in the NFC divisional playoff game against New Orleans on Saturday they leaned on the principles Pete Carroll put in place in the infancy of his arrival in Seattle.
The Seahawks have been about running the football and playing defense first and foremost, well before Wilson arrived or Percy Harvin was acquired.
It was of little surprise that Marshawn Lynch kept getting carries and Seattle used another swarming defensive effort against Drew Brees and New Orleans' potent offense in Saturday's 23-15 victory. It was a blustery, nasty day where those traits Carroll values so deeply were brought to the forefront.
Lynch finished with a franchise playoff record 140 yards rushing and both of Seattle's touchdowns.
"This is exactly why you make a commitment to be a balanced offense and a balanced football team, so that when you have these kinds of opportunities and situations that you can play D, you can stick with your kicking game and come through and you can run the football," Carroll said. "I think it was really a great look."
Seattle will host San Francisco next Sunday in the NFC championship game with the possibility of advancing to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. Seattle's only Super Bowl trip came in the 2005 playoffs when it routed Carolina in the NFC championship game at home.
It will be the third meeting this season between the division rivals, with each team winning on their home field. Seattle won 29-3 in December and San Francisco earned a 19-17 victory in December.
"It feels awesome, but this doesn't mean anything if we don't win next week," Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said.
Even though he again was one of the top running backs in the league, Lynch's regular season lacked consistency. Much of that was due to blocking struggles by Seattle's offensive line, but something clicked against the Saints and the Seahawks kept turning to their bruising back.