Seahawks Overcome Injuries, Rams

The Seahawks all but wrapped up the NFC West division Sunday by sweeping the Rams for a second consecutive season. The 24-22 victory was particularly satisfying for Seattle because the Seahawks remain without so many injured starters.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (knee) and running back Shaun Alexander (foot) could return from injuries this week, giving Seattle a needed boost.

The team beat the Rams without either star. Pro Bowl center Robbie Tobeck also missed the game after falling terribly ill Sunday morning. Tobeck's surprise absence came 24 hours after the team placed 2004 first-round pick Marcus Tubbs on injured reserve.

Bobby Engram, who led the team in receiving last season, remains sidelined indefinitely by a thyroid condition.

The Seahawks have clawed their way to a 6-3 record with Seneca Wallace at quarterback, Maurice Morris at running back and several other reserve players performing in more prominent roles.

"The trainers are starting to not even look me in the eye around here," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Teams get injured. You can't dwell on that too much because no one really cares except your own team.
"So, you just have to bite and scratch and figure out how to get a couple wins, and that's kind of what we've done for a couple of weeks."

Kicker Josh Brown might be the Seahawks' most valuable player to this point. His game-winning kicks have accounted for half of the Seahawks' six victories. The team could easily be 3-6 at this point instead of cruising toward a third consecutive NFC West title.

"We just chip away," left tackle Walter Jones said. "We lost our MVP in Shaun and we lost Hasselbeck, but we made progress and we knew that we had to continue to keep working on it.

"And that's what we did each week to try and get better."

The Seahawks take an 11-game divisional winning streak to San Francisco this week. The 49ers have won two in a row and they have played the Seahawks tough in San Francisco recently. "Now is not the time to take a deep breath," Holmgren said. "You can't do that. You must keep the hammer down and keep pushing."

The team hopes to get Alexander and Hasselbeck on the field soon. Alexander hasn't played since Sept. 24 and he hasn't been right since suffering a foot injury in the season opener. Morris has played better recently after struggling for a few weeks, but he doesn't have the size to be a 25-carry guy every week.

Getting Alexander back now would provide a huge lift, particularly with the line opening a few more holes.

Hasselbeck's return might be less of a priority given how well Wallace is playing. Wallace's legs give Seattle another dimension offensively. He's apt to turn a potential sack into a 30-yard gain, something he did against the Rams.

Hasselbeck has taken a few reps in practice, but his sprained right knee isn't quite right. The team won't rush him back onto the field. Hasselbeck must be able to avoid pressure before he gets clearance for the team's medical staff.

PLAYER NOTES

--C Robbie Tobeck missed the game Sunday after falling ill. Tobeck was flat-on-his-back sick. Chris Spencer started in his place.

--C Chris Spencer started at center after Robbie Tobeck became ill before the game. Spencer seemed to play well, helping the Seahawks pound out 160 yards rushing.

--RB Maurice Morris carried 24 times for 124 yards, his second 100-yard game in a row, as the Seahawks' ground game picked up momentum. Morris aggravated a shoulder injury late in the game. The team hopes to get RB Shaun Alexander back from injury next week.

--WR Nate Burleson came through Sunday with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown. The fourth-quarter play put Seattle ahead and gave the Seahawks a needed lift. Burleson has not played receiver as much as expected, but the team wanted to get him on the field as a returner.

--TE Jerramy Stevens caught a TD pass Sunday, partially atoning for his end-zone drop and 15-yard penalty against the Raiders last week.


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