Up next: First look at Seattle

Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren needs to decide this week if he wants to become a pass-first team or if he still wants to try to maintain the balance in his offense that he so desperately seeks.

For yet another week, against Cleveland, the league's worst defense, the Seahawks were unable to run the ball, leaving Holmgren in a quandary about which direction to take when they play host to the division rival San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

After all, Holmgren need only look at his former team, the Green Bay Packers, to see that it is possible to win without a running game. But the Seahawks feel they cannot win in the playoffs without a balanced attack and so they continue to try to correct the issues they are having with an aging and oft-injured running back, a poorly constructed offensive line and a fullback and tight end that are raw.

On Sunday against Cleveland, which is relinquishing 410 yards of offense a game, the Seahawks managed just 105 yards rushing, 32 from Shaun Alexander on 14 carries before he left the game with a worsening injury.

But the most disturbing issue came in overtime, when the Seahawks faced fourth-and-inches at Cleveland's 43. All they needed was a half yard to keep alive what could have been the game-winning drive, and instead they were stuffed by the Browns' porous defense.

"We used to be pretty good at that," Holmgren said, "but we aren't good at it now."

Alexander finally admitted, after maintaining all along that things weren't as bad as they seemed, that the running game is broken and needs to be fixed.

"It is like sometimes you have to take reality checks and say, 'OK, you know what, what we have been doing is not getting it done so now we have to figure out some way to get it done,'" Alexander said.

Alexander already was suffering from a cracked bone in his left wrist and has been wearing a protective cast since the second week of the season. He suffered an ankle and knee injury on Sunday that tightened up and forced him to sit out, including the critical play in the fourth quarter. And though he says he should be ready to go on Monday, he will not be fully healthy regardless.

Meanwhile, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is having a solid season, passing for 318 yards against Cleveland and maintaining his 88.7 passer rating.

He got back starting split end D.J. Hackett against Cleveland and should get back starting flanker Deion Branch against San Francisco. And with Bobby Engram, the receiving corps is the obvious strength of the team.

Also, while the offensive line has been dreadful in run blocking, it has protected Hasselbeck very well, giving up no sacks against the Browns and providing plenty of time.

--- WR D.J. Hackett returned for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain in the first week and started at split end. He had six receptions for 58 yards and his first touchdown of the season.
--- RB Shaun Alexander sustained a sprained knee and ankle. He returned to the game but the knee stiffened in the second half, forcing him to sit out. He said he should be able to play Monday night against San Francisco.
--- DE Patrick Kerney strained his oblique muscle, something he said he has done before. He missed the remainder of the game. Ellis Wyms played end while Kerney was out.
--- LB Leroy Hill suffered a pulled hamstring and did not return. He is questionable for Monday's game against the 49ers. Kevin Bentley plays in place of Hill.
--- DE Darryl Tapp, who had hand surgery two weeks ago, wore a protective glove over his hand during Sunday's game. Still, he had an interception, though he recorded no sacks.
--- WR/KR Nate Burleson had a long touchdown return for the second straight game. He returned a punt 94 yards one game after returning a kickoff 91 yards. It tied the longest punt return in franchise history.

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