Seattle has struggled ever since St. Louis' Oct. 10 miracle rally

By CLARE FARNSWORTH
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

KIRKLAND -- They are 11 minutes that will live in infamy.

With 7 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in a Week 5 game against the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field, the Seahawks were a couple of guffaws from completing a laugher. Up 27-10, the Seahawks' No. 1-ranked defense had the Rams backed into a third-and-13 corner at their own 31-yard line.

Before the Seahawks knew what had blindsided them, the Rams ran off 17 points to tie the score in regulation and then scored on the sixth play in overtime to win 33-27.

Five weeks later in St. Louis, the Rams held the Seahawks without a touchdown in winning a rematch.

Has the futility of those games, especially that October loss in Seattle, allowed the Rams to take up residence in the Seahawks' psyche?

"Definitely," Rams defensive end Anthony Hargrove told reporters in St. Louis yesterday. "They've put on a good game, but we've still come away with victories."

The Seahawks get another shot at redemption Saturday, when they host the Rams once again in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

That colossal collapse -- or combustive comeback, depending on which side of the field you were on that October day -- is getting a lot of play this week, for the obvious reason.

After that game, the Seahawks never were the same team that started 3-0.



"Heck, I could tell you that we've blocked it out of our minds," coach Mike Holmgren said this week. "But that would be dishonest. You play a game like that, and if you lose a game like that ... I'm not sure I'll ever forget that game."

The Rams, meanwhile, have relied on the resiliency they flaunted that day several times during the dozen games that followed.

"We've used that a lot this year any time we've faced adversity," quarterback Marc Bulger said in a telephone interview. "A couple weeks ago, we were 6-8 and we knew we had to win our last two. We reflected back to that final quarter of the Seattle game a lot just because of the hole we were in, and knowing we could dig ourselves out."

For those who have forgotten, or simply couldn't bear to watch, here's how the excavation process went:


Bulger completed a 20-yard pass to Isaac Bruce on that third-and-13 play, which became a 35-yard gain to the Seahawks 34 when defensive tackle Rocky Bernard was penalized for a blow to the facemask of the Rams quarterback.


One more third-down conversion, this time a 24-yard pass to Shaun McDonald, set up Bulger's 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna that pulled the Rams to within 27-17 with 5:34 left in regulation.


The Seahawks could have burned additional time on their next possession, but Shaun Alexander was stopped for no gain on third-and-1 and McDonald returned Tom Rouen's punt 39 yards to the Seahawks 41. Adding injury to insult, Rouen pulled a hamstring while chasing McDonald and was lost for the season.


On the next play, Kevin Curtis blew past cornerback Ken Lucas and strong safety Terreal Bierria for a TD that made it 27-24 with 3:30 remaining.


The Seahawks had another chance to run the clock, but defensive end Leonard Little sacked Matt Hasselbeck for a 12-yard loss on third-and-5 and kicker Josh Brown was forced to punt because of the injury to Rouen.


Bulger then passed to Bruce for 27 yards and to Curtis for 16 yards, on third-and-7, to set up Jeff Wilkins' game-tying field goal with eight seconds left.


On third-and-8 from the Rams 48 in overtime, McDonald got behind Bierria for the game-winning touchdown reception.

The Rams' delight was matched only by the Seahawks' devastation.

"You can be in a game like that and sometimes it's one area of your team that maybe has a lapse," Holmgren said. "But given the time that was left, the perfect chain of events had to take place for the Rams to have a chance.

"It's the only game I've ever coached in my life -- at any level, even my days as a high school coach -- where that's exactly what happened."

Holmgren's disbelief was matched by Mike Martz's satisfaction.

"There's nothing magical about what we were doing on either side of the ball," the Rams coach said yesterday. "The thing you talk about with these guys is attitude and never giving in to anything. You've got to keep playing and somebody's got to step up and make a play. That game was probably more indicative of that than any game I've ever coached in."

The trick now for the Seahawks is to finally put that perfectly choreographed effort by the Rams behind them.

"Did that game have something to do with the couple, three games that followed? Yeah, I think it did," said Holmgren, with the Seahawks also losing their next two games to start a 3-6 slide supporting his assessment.

"But, we're pretty far removed from that game. This one is a separate game."

At least physically, and chronologically. Whether the Seahawks are over that game mentally remains to be seen.

P-I reporter Clare Farnsworth can be reached at 206-448-8016 or clarefarnsworth@seattlepi.com