Seahawks lose game, win NFC West anyway

It's been a rollercoaster season for Seattle fans in 2006. Even with the injuries and inconsistent play, a win today against San Diego or a loss by the San Francisco 49ers would give the Seahawks their third-straight NFC West crown. Unfortunately for the 68,174 in attendance the team will back into the playoffs this year after suffering a 20-17 loss at the hands of the Chargers.

It was a defensive showcase early on as Seattle's defense was able to bottle-up the likely NFL MVP for most of the first half. LaDanian Tomlinson had a league-ecord 31 touchdowns coming into the game and he left Qwest Field with that same total.

Except for one 62 yard run, the defense, led by the 12 tackles and one sack of LB Lofa Tatupu were able to control Tomlinson – allowing him only 61 yards on his other 21 carries.

The defense was also able to frustrate Chargers QB Phillip Rivers who finished 10 of 30 for 181 yards with two touchdowns. However, two blown coverages resulted in Rivers' two scoring passes to WR Vincent Jackson.

On 2nd-and-8 from Seattle's nine Rivers dropped back to pass and was able to find Jackson, the only wideout in the pattern, for a touchdown pass with three Seahawks trailing him.

Late in the game, trailing 17-13, Rivers threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jackson who had beaten S Michael Boulware in the back of the endzone for the winning score with 29 seconds remaining.

Offensively, Seattle looked lost for much of the game drawing boos from the usually partisan home crowd.

At halftime, Seattle had mustered only nine first downs and 124 yards with two interceptions by QB Matt Hasselbeck who had a tough day.

Hasselbeck was harassed constantly by Chargers LB Shawne Merriman who finished with three sacks and five tackles. He also batted a ball at the line and generally was a thorn in Seattle's side all day.

Late in the first half, as the Seahawks were deep in Chargers territory, Hasselbeck moved to his left and felt pressure from Merriman. Hasselbeck threw to a wide-open Bobby Engram but the pass was high and it fell into the waiting arms of S Clinton Hart killing Seattle's best chance at a score in the first half.

Hart had also intercepted Hasselbeck earlier in the day thwarting another Seattle scoring opportunity.

In the second half, San Diego extended their lead to 10-0 when K Nate Kaeding hit a 46-yard field goal on the Chargers' first drive, but Seattle was able to answer with a heavy dose of RB Shaun Alexander.

Alexander had 92 yards in the second half and ran for two scores including the one that put the Seahawks in the lead early in the fourth quarter. He finished the day with 140 yards on the ground and had his second-best rushing day of the season.

Several missed opportunities also hurt Seattle's chances to win the game as well.

CB Kelly Herndon, who had one of his best days as a Seahawk, dropped an easy interception early in the game and, late in the first half, after a Ryan Plackemeier 72-yard punt, RB Marquis Weeks caused Keenan McCardell to fumble, but the Chargers were able to recover as well.

Also, Nate Burleson returned a kickoff 96 yards in the third quarter for an apparent score, but TE Bennie Joppru was called for holding, nullifying the game-turning play.

Even with the loss, Seattle was able to win the division as the San Franscisco 49ers lost at home to the Arizona Cardinals 26-20.

The players will have Monday and Tuesday off before reporting for practice on Wednesday in preparation for the Season finale against Tampa Bay on the road.


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