Former Seahawks right tackle Sean Locklear, now with the Atlanta Falcons, said of the play: "We didn't really call [it] that much. I don't even think it was in the game plan. We were kind of in the four-minute mode, just trying to run down the clock because, obviously, we didn't want their offense on the field because we knew what they could do."
Former Saints strongside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, now with the St. Louis Rams: "I remember the play. I remember where they were on the field. I remember everything. I wasn't able to get my hands on [Lynch], but I remember we had a strongside blitz on. I came down from the strongside blitz, and the guy came around and he just made a lot of guys miss and made a really big play. I remember it like it was yesterday."
Most of the initial action occurred on that strong side of the formation -- the Seahawks' left side.
Carlson lined up as an extra blocker on the left. Seahawks receiver Ben Obomanu motioned from the right side to the left before the snap, then blocked Saints blitzing safety Roman Harper, who stayed wide to set the edge and prevent Lynch from kicking the run out to that side. Meanwhile, Dunbar was negated by a double-team from Carlson and Gibson, who had pulled across the line from the right guard spot.
Fullback Michael Robinson took Vilma out of the play with a beautifully executed block on that same side of the field. Lynch potentially could have followed Robinson and found an opening. Instead, he chose to turn slightly to his right -- and directly into the Saints' weakside linebacker, Shanle, at the line of scrimmage.
Shanle was in perfect position to make the tackle, but Lynch bounced right off him after their shoulder pads collided. Lynch slipped free to the right side of Shanle and into open space.
Shanle: "I think it was a power play, and we just scraped over the top. And he made a move at the last second to go backdoor, which was kind of odd, because usually on the power play, they either keep it right in that A-gap or they bounce it outside to the front. And he took it to the back side. And once he did that, the whole thing just kind of broke down. He made a nice cut, and we didn't have anybody back there."
Sharper: "When they handed it off, it looked like an off-tackle, like a lead play. Our linebacker Scott Shanle hits him right at the line of scrimmage, and we all tried to kind of get to the ball to get him down."
That was a key part of the Saints' breakdown. Because it looked like Lynch was being wrapped up at the line of scrimmage, most of the Saints' defenders started to converge toward Lynch from the side -- as though they were going to join a pileup. Instead, they all wound up overpursuing.
Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis ran around the pile to assist on the tackle, but he went around Shanle's right side while Lynch was emerging from the other side. Defensive end Will Smith pulled away from a block by Okung at the line and just missed as he dove for Lynch's legs. Defensive tackle Remi Ayodele tried to rally back to the play after being double-teamed by Polumbus and center Chris Spencer but took too shallow of an angle as he, too, dove at Lynch's legs and failed to get a grip.