Scoreless in Seattle: Spagnuolo era opens with a thud
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- The feisty, new-look Seahawks of coach Jim Mora attacked on defense during plays -- and scrapped after them.

On offense, they showed balance between run and pass, and did a good job of protecting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

It was as if 2008 never happened.

St. Louis resembled the same old Rams, who hired Steve Spagnuolo as their head coach after going 2-14 last year.

Hasselbeck, playing his first game since Thanksgiving Day, overcame two interceptions in his first three throws Sunday to connect with John Carlson for two touchdowns in Seattle's 28-0 romp past the Rams.

Hasselbeck, who missed nine games last season with a bad back, finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards passing, his most for an opener.

Seattle's first shutout in almost two years was its ninth consecutive win over its division rivals. It was also Seattle's biggest win to begin a season since a 38-0 victory over Philadelphia in 1998.

"The whole offseason, they said our team was soft," said rookie outside linebacker Aaron Curry, the fourth overall pick who scuffled repeatedly with Rams running back Steven Jackson. "We've got to change our image."

Mora was smiling after his first game as a head coach since the end of the 2006 season for Atlanta. Nine months ago, the Seahawks were 4-12 for Mike Holmgren.

The former visiting locker room attendant for the Seahawks at the old Kingdome returned to his hometown for a day he said he'd thought of "for a long, long time."

"It was especially emotional for me, because there is some significance to it. I'd be lying if I told you there wasn't," the 47-year-old said. "It was kind of a surreal experience."

His revived Seahawks took advantage of a rare use of instant replay to cruise over the sloppy, undisciplined Rams, who pushed and shoved their way to 10 penalties.

Two of them were personal fouls after plays by offensive lineman Richie Incognito.

"Would you rather us just get our tail kicked and walk back (to the huddle)?" Jackson said. "You saw some fight in this team."

Yet, St. Louis gained just 247 yards in an effort similar to its 38-3 loss against Philadelphia that opened last season.

"Yeah, I'm not going there,'' said Spagnuolo, who was the Giants' defensive coordinator at the time. "This was the first game of the 2009 season, that's what it is. We didn't win. We will play the second game of the 2009 season next week. ''

The game's most decisive -- and weirdest -- play came late in the first half. Seattle's Olindo Mare struck a 49-yard field-goal attempt low. C.J. Ah You blocked it, and three other Rams could have.

Quincy Butler scooped the ball and ran 51 yards for an apparent touchdown.

As the Rams were about to snap for the tying extra point, referee Pete Morelli announced the booth officials had called for a review -- for whether St. Louis had 12 men on the field.

Turns out, they did. The Rams' sideline had almost no reaction to the rare reversal. Three plays later, Hasselbeck found Nate Burleson for a 12-yard touchdown. Instead of 7-7 at halftime, Seattle led 14-0.

The Rams never recovered.

"They count (players) every play, just in case that foul is called," Morelli said of the replay officials.

The issue of giving replay officials authority to review such plays grew after an infamous incident involving former Steelers coach Bill Cowher in 1995, four years before the current replay system began. The late referee Gordon McCarter incorrectly called Pittsburgh for 12 men on the field during a game against Minnesota. Cowher was fined for comically stuffing into McCarter's pocket a photo from the press box showing 11 Steelers on the field.

St. Louis managed just 13 first downs against the new, attacking schemes of Seattle first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Marc Bulger, playing with tape on his broken right pinkie, was 17 of 36 for 191 yards. He was sacked three times.

He said the Rams "aren't going to panic" after just one game.

And Spagnuolo sounded encouraged.

"I'm obviously disappointed in the result, but I'm not disappointed in the effort," he said. "We feel we are better than that. And that's a good thing."

The Seahawks' run game under first-year offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, showed some life as Julius Jones went untouched 62 yards for a touchdown in the second half. Jones finished with 117 yards on 19 carries.