Seattle's mixed-up first play was bad omen
By Lori Shontz
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Nov. 14 2004

As a metaphor for what happens when the Seattle Seahawks play the Rams, it's
hard to get better than Sunday's first play from scrimmage.

The Seahawks' Pro Bowl running back and their Pro Bowl quarterback crashed into
each other on the handoff, leaving QB Matt Hasselbeck with a charley horse and
running back Shaun Alexander with a banged-up knee.

At best, the play was inefficient. At worst, if either player had been
seriously injured, it could have been disastrous. And that just about sums up
Seattle's attempts to beat the Rams this season.

"That's one of those things that's just weird," Alexander said. "I was
(thinking), 'How many people start a game where the two key players knock
themselves out with no one else touching them?' It was just kind of like a big
joke. I was (thinking), hopefully we'll be able to tell this story with humor
down the road. And you know ... not as funny as I wanted it to be."

Because yet again, the Seahawks fell to the Rams, the team they need to beat to
get control of the NFC West and to make their Super Bowl aspirations seem like
more than a pipe dream. The final score was 23-12, but no one cared about the
specifics.

"We wanted this game," linebacker Chad Brown said. "It would have given us a
nice lead in the division, and for us to blow it ... with all the games we've
lost this year, we've blown it. The fact that we blew it, and it's against the
Rams, that makes us look really bad."

The Hasselbeck-Alexander collision turned out to mean little. But plenty of
other things went wrong.

The Seahawks failed to score a touchdown even though they ventured inside the
Rams' 30-yard line six times. They played such soft defense early, giving up
touchdowns on the Rams' first two possessions, that Seattle coach Mike Holmgren
said it looked as if the Rams "were out there by themselves the first part of
the game."

Oh, and when Seattle finally appeared to be taking control, with Alexander
shredding the Rams' defense and appearing headed for the end zone early in the
fourth quarter, Rams safety Aeneas Williams punched the ball out of Alexander's
grip. Inside the 10-yard line. That ended the Seahawks' last and best chance to
score a touchdown.

"We can compete with their team," cornerback Ken Lucas said. "Their team is no
better than ours. We're probably more talented than that team, it's just ... I
don't know, they just don't make as many mistakes as we have been making."

Over and over, the Seattle players sounded the same theme, agreeing that
there's some ingredient the Rams have that the Seahawks lack.

"I don't think they're better than us," receiver Darrell Jackson said. "I just
think they're more polished."

Alexander, who posted his third consecutive 100-yard game with 176 yards, put
the blame squarely on himself and his teammates.

"They don't feel like they're going to get beat by us," he said. "When you're
in a situation like that, the team that's on the other side has to step up and
take the victory, and that's something that we're still getting to learn how to
do - go out there and take victories, instead of just winning."