2,000 yards: An Alexander odyssey

Seattle RB Shaun Alexander, the NFL's leading rusher with 1,114 yards after nine games, is on a pace to finish the season with 1,980 yards. Here, he talks about the pursuit of a milestone 2,000-yard season, the Seahawks' emergence as a NFC frontrunner and Super Bowl contender, the high expectations he places on himself and the team, talk of him being overrated, his leading the fan vote in Pro Bowl balloting, and keeping his head on straight as Seattle continues on what could be a special season.

Q: You started off 2-2, but since then you have won five straight games, what do you contribute that success to?

Alexander:
Jacksonville played a very good game against us. They forced us to do some things that we really didn't want to do and they beat us. In Washington, we actually kicked a field goal that hit the goal post. It went into overtime and they beat us. So we actually would be on an eight-game winning streak if it wasn't for that field goal. We've been a team that set some high goals and things are just really connecting right now. We're one of those teams that is in a groove and we're just trying to stay in it.

Q: How does this team feel different from last year, because it seems as if it's a different vibe?

Alexander:
We're a different team and we really enjoy playing with each other. You've probably seen it before where a team is playing but they're not really a team. I think that has been the biggest difference. When the defense is playing we're cheering for them. When the special team is playing we're cheering them on. I think that's one of those pieces that really is not talked about. We finally have that right chemistry.

Q: With all the talk surrounding your team about winning last year do you feel that same pressure to perform this year?

Alexander:
I put an extremely high amount of pressure on myself and I expect a lot out of the guys around me. For me it's really the same. I'm super optimistic and I always expect the most. As a unit I think that our expectations and understanding of the game have grown. I think that's another thing that has grown.

Q: Can you talk about going for 2,000 yards this season and is that still an attainable goal for you?

Alexander:
Honestly, that's been a goal for years. I always wanted to put myself in position to have a year like this. I haven't had my best game of the year yet. We're still shooting to have a bigger and better game. Once we have that we'll really know if we're on pace or not.

Q: What has beating the Rams twice done for this team's confidence?

Alexander:
It's a huge changing of the guards for us. We know we had to do something. Last year they handed it to us three times. That was embarrassing and it makes you question how good you really are. This year we figured out some things to do well against them.

Q: Can you talk about your contract situation for a minute?

Alexander:
I'm not franchise. I signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks, with the rights for them not to franchise me next year. I think it was just a wise decision for both me and them, so that we could make a real decision if I'm going to be here. Conversations have started and I basically stay out of it. I do what I can control then I let my agent and the Seahawks organization do what they can do. I think that's the best way for everybody to be successful and achieve what we want to achieve.

Q: Who do you watch out for on defense for the Niners?

Alexander:
It's always been Julian, that's Julian's team. He's a great player. We came in the league together and I think that he's one of the best outside linebackers in the game. He's going to play well and he's going to get ready for everybody to play. That's the thing. He's the Pro-Bowler and the captain. They have some great defensive lineman. I think Bryant Young is playing better than he's ever played before. The 49ers are one of those teams that if you take them for granted you will get blown out and we know that.

Q: How does the team feel about possibly being Super Bowl contenders?

Alexander:
That's our goal. I don't think anything else is good enough. Our goal is to be better than we've ever been before and to accomplish things that we've never accomplished before. We've never seen Super Bowl champions here. Every season there is no difference in what we want to accomplish. The difference is in our maturity and what it takes to get there.

Q: In a Sports Illustrated poll that came out this week, you were voted one of the most overrated running backs. Does that amuse you?

Alexander:
OK. I don't really read papers and I don't get into polls about who is this or who is that. I just play. My demeanor probably throws people off. When you watch film people are probably saying that he's not fast and he's not strong, but in the game we just get it done. I've been blessed. I fell into the end zone many times and we've made some great plays as a group. I don't really get into who is underrated or overrated. I just go out there and play.

Q: On the other hand, as of now you're also leading the Pro Bowl vote.

Alexander:
I am. That's good. It's just one of those things that I don't get into. You can take me back to my junior year in high school. I was playing and putting up all these numbers (2,400 yards and 42 touchdowns) and coaches were talking about the letters and all the trips that I was going to take. I just kind of looked at it as me just playing football, because my older brother and friends wanted to play. This is a blessed opportunity for me to just go play football.

Q: Does that fit with your outside demeanor?

Alexander:
It does. Anytime something gets thrown out of proportion people that know me know that's not who I am.


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