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Seahawks looking for redemption against Rams
Seahawks looking for redemption against Rams
By TIM KORTE
AP SPORTS WRITER
SEATTLE -- It was the game that has defined the season for the Seattle Seahawks - a collapse that's been questioned, dissected and rehashed since mid-October.
Perhaps the most infamous 11 minutes in franchise history.
"When all of us are done playing, we'll still remember it as one of the most embarrassing games we've ever played," cornerback Ken Lucas said. "You never forget a game like that."
The St. Louis Rams rallied for a 33-27 win Oct. 10, erasing a 17-point deficit with 8:47 to play and scoring less than 3 minutes into overtime. With an almost unbelievable turn of events, they stunned the Seahawks.
"Given the time that was left, the perfect chain of events had to take place for the Rams to have a chance," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said.
That's exactly what happened, but Seattle gets another shot this weekend.
The Rams - who also beat the Seahawks 23-12 in St. Louis a few weeks later - return for Saturday's wild-card playoff, revisiting the site of their hallmark victory during a frustrating season.
"We've used that a lot this year, any time we've faced some adversity," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said. "A couple of weeks ago, we were 6-8 and we knew we had to win our last two. We reflected back to that final quarter in Seattle."
What a quarter it was.
Seattle led 27-10 after Josh Brown's 34-yard field goal with 8:47 to go. St. Louis made it 27-17 on Brandon Manumaleuna's circus catch with 5:43 on the clock, then Kevin Curtis caught a 41-yard TD pass to make it 27-24 with 3:37 remaining.
St. Louis got the ball again, leading to a 36-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins with 13 seconds left. On the sixth play from scrimmage in overtime, Bulger read an all-out blitz and flipped a 52-yard TD pass to Shaun McDonald.
"Unbelievable feeling. It was one of those great feelings in sports," St. Louis safety Adam Archuleta said.
"What it comes down to is you've got guys making plays," Rams coach Mike Martz explained. "There's nothing magical about what we were doing. The thing you talk about with these guys is attitude and never giving in to anything."
How did it look from Seattle's side? Let's just say there were some really unfortunate events.
Rocky Bernard was assessed a 15-yard penalty for hitting Bulger's face mask during a 20-yard completion on third-and-13. Shaun Alexander was stopped on third-and-1 to force one punt and Matt Hasselbeck was sacked for a 12-yard loss on third-and-5.
The Rams earned that win, no doubt, but the Seahawks gave it away.
"I probably needed to be humbled. I just want to say that I've learned my lesson," Holmgren said, looking skyward.
For redemption, the Seahawks need to remember what worked for 3 1/2 quarters.
"In the first game, we got some pressure on them. The last game, they had more time," defensive tackle Cedric Woodard said. "We're not going to do anything different. We're going to emphasize getting to the quarterback."
It's also imperative for Seattle's secondary - Lucas, Marcus Trufant, Ken Hamlin and rookie safety Michael Boulware - to play well. Of course, that's easier said than done against receivers like Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
"They will be challenged. It's very, very important for them to have a great game," Holmgren said. "Usually, the outcome of the football game is a team thing. But our secondary and how they hold up against these guys, it's going to be big."
If that wasn't challenging enough, Bulger is rolling. He completed 29-of-39 - just under 75 percent - for a season-high 450 yards passing and three TDs in last week's 33-29 overtime defeat of the New York Jets.
"He is really playing very well," Martz said.
It was Bulger's third win when the Rams trailed in the fourth quarter this season, but the Seahawks bring some momentum, too. They've won three of four, recovering after a 3-6 skid that followed their meltdown against the Rams.
Last week, Seattle got a huge lift when linebackers Chad Brown, Isaiah Kacyvenski and a swarm of defenders stopped Atlanta's Warrick Dunn on a 2-point conversion attempt to preserve a 28-26 victory.
Now, in the playoffs, they hope to turn a corner against St. Louis.
"I want to be able to tell my kids and my family and friends that we redeemed ourselves in the same year and beat them in a game that really counted," Lucas said.
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