SEATTLE -- Pete Carroll never appears calm about anything. He speaks like he's stuck in fast-forward and stalks the sideline with a bundle of youthful energy.
So maybe the Seahawks' first-year coach caught himself by surprise with how mellow he was in the minutes after Seattle shocked the rest of football with its stunning upset of the defending Super Bowl champions.
"It's funny I'm so calm about this. You'd all think that I'd be all pumped up and jacked up, but there is just a calm about it," Carroll said. "I'm just so proud to be part of this thing and see these guys come through like this and we're done; we're talking about next week already."
The reason Seattle is talking about a trip to the divisional round of the playoffs is almost as shocking as its 41-36 upset of the New Orleans Saints on Saturday. The Seahawks didn't just beat New Orleans. This wasn't a fluky victory based on external forces like weather or a long list of Saints mistakes.
The Seahawks (8-9) somehow managed to win a shootout against New Orleans. Matt Hasselbeck threw four touchdowns in one of the finest performances of his career, and Marshawn Lynch capped the upset with an electrifying 67-yard touchdown run that was going viral on the Internet after Lynch shed at least a half-dozen tacklers on his way to the end zone.
It all seemed so unlikely -- the first division champs in league history with a losing record, and a 10-point home underdog, booting the reigning champs out of the playoffs. But having served as the punch line of the playoffs for a week, the Seahawks did more than just validate their place in the postseason.
"We just beat the world champs and that's a great feeling," Hasselbeck said. "And we worked hard to do it. It wasn't like it kind of happened. We worked hard this week, and we prepared, and we believed and we laid it on the line."
The Seahawks spent Sunday waiting to find out where they'd be going for the divisional round, a trip no one just days earlier thought Seattle would be booking. If Philadelphia won Sunday afternoon, the Seahawks would face Atlanta, the top seed in the NFC. An upset by Green Bay would send the Seahawks to Chicago.
They're familiar with both teams, having beat the Bears 23-20 in Chicago in Week 6 and losing at home to Atlanta 34-18 less than a month ago. The loss to Atlanta was the middle defeat of a three-game December losing streak that seemed to have the Seahawks destined to miss the postseason.
But here they are, preparing to play in the second-round of the playoffs for the fourth time since 2005.
"I don't even know the scenarios and I know you think that's crazy but I don't know what is going on," Carroll said after Saturday's win. "And, it doesn't matter. I just know that we show up on Monday and we'll figure out where we're going."
The conventional belief was that if Seattle had any chance of beating the Saints, it needed to be a low-scoring game where the Saints made enough mistakes to keep the Seahawks lingering around.
And when Seattle went down 10-0 and then 17-7 in the second quarter, a sudden scoring spurt from the offensively challenged Seahawks was highly unlikely. Seattle ended the regular season with an offense that ranked 28th in the league in total yards and 23rd in points per game. They scored just 49 points combined in their final three games of the regular season.
But Hasselbeck picked apart the Saints defense in Week 11 and even though the Seahawks trailed, the Seahawks QB hit nine of his first 10 throws, the only incompletion a pass that went through Ben Obomanu's hands and was intercepted by Jabari Greer.
Arguably, Seattle's rally started not with Hasselbeck's second touchdown throw to John Carlson that made it 17-14, but a play earlier. On second down, Hasselbeck stood in against a blitz and was drilled by Will Smith as he tossed a floater he hoped Cameron Morrah could run under. Morrah did and went 39 yards to set up Carlson's touchdown.
From there, Hasselbeck threw aggressively downfield against the Saints secondary. He hit Brandon Stokley slipping free from a bunch formation for a 45-yard touchdown just before halftime, then started the second half by going deep on third-and-2 and finding Mike Williams for a 38-yard score that gave Seattle a 31-20 lead.
"They make you beat them. They play their system -- they blitz, they play their scheme, they make you beat them," Williams said. "either you make your plays or you don't. We were fortunate to make our plays."
And then came Lynch.
"I was just pretty much determined," he said.
By Sunday afternoon, his memorable run had already been set to the tune of "Super Mario Bros." on YouTube and the Seahawks reported more than 36,000 views on their website Saturday night of Lynch's run. He broke a half-dozen tackles near the line of scrimmage then floored Tracy Porter with a vicious stiff-arm.
It was the longest touchdown run of his career and the most memorable of cappers to a most unexpected victory.
"The only thing that matters is what we believe in our group," Lynch said. "Within us, we believed that we could do it and we did."