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Seahawks no longer a national secret

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Dec. 6, 2005) -- The Seattle Seahawks showed the NFL that they are more than just lucky.

The aftermath of Seattle routing depleted Philadelphia 42-0 on Dec. 5 is that a team much of the football world perceived as fortunate a week ago is now viewed as at least opportunistic -- if not just plain good.

And that goes beyond the two interceptions and one fumble the defending NFC champion Eagles gift-wrapped into Seahawks touchdowns. Seattle led 21-0 only 18½ minutes in and 35-0 by halftime. The Seahawks coasted so smoothly through the Pennsylvania snow, NFL rushing leader Shaun Alexander didn't even play in the second half.

"With the way we played ... I would hope that we would get the respect from the media that we deserve," said tight end Jerramy Stevens, who grabbed four of Matt Hasselbeck's passes in the game's first five plays.

Coach Mike Holmgren called the nationally televised game "a chance for our young guys to be on the national stage."

"We've been pretty much underneath the radar for most of the season," he said. "A lot of people, even going into this game, were saying, `Let's see.'

They saw.

The NFC West champions are 10-2 and lead the conference by one game over Chicago and Carolina, against whom they hold tiebreaking advantages. A victory Dec. 11 against last-place San Francisco (2-10) at Qwest Field would be a Seahawks' record ninth straight. Seattle is 20-3 at home since the end of 2002.

With undefeated Indianapolis as the only winning team left on the regular-season schedule, Seattle is on track for other firsts: A top conference seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

So now the Seahawks can finally advance past their season-long refrain of "let's win the division first" to far more lofty -- and suddenly pertinent -- ideals.

"And we have big goals," said Alexander, a potential free agent. The running back said this season he wants to remain in Seattle to "win four or five Super Bowls."

That doesn't seem like such a joke this week.

Alexander, with 1,388 yards rushing through 12 games, has led an efficient offense that can also grind out scores in playoff-like fashion. Seattle began the Eagles game with a 16-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a touchdown.

The Seahawks entered the game with an NFL-high 20 scoring drives of at least 80 yards this season.

But perhaps the best development in Philadelphia was the defense. Holmgren has privately been holding his breath about it for three months. Last week, he watched the New York Giants rack up 490 yards.

He was finally able to exhale after the big victory. His young, largely unproven unit -- with two rookies starting at linebacker and three starters injured in the secondary -- throttled the Eagles' wounded offense for Seattle's second road shutout in seven seasons.

Cornerback Andre Dyson intercepted Eagles starter Mike McMahon and returned the pick for a first-quarter touchdown. Rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu did the same thing in the second period. On the first play of the third quarter, Dyson scooped up Ryan Moates' fumble and ran 25 yards for yet another defensive score.

Those were the Seahawks' first three defensive touchdowns this season.

That is how the NFL's top offense threw only 15 passes and gained only 194 total yards in the snow.

Afterward, none of the Seahawks cared that the dominance came with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb out and with running-receiving dynamo Brian Westbrook spraining his foot in the second half.

"We finally put a game together, and we were looking to do that for a while," Dyson said. "We did it on a big stage and showed how good we were as a defense."

Teammates helped carry him off the field after his fumble return. After the game, Dyson wore a protective boot over his left ankle.

Holmgren said it was just "sore," and that X-rays were negative.

"They tell me it's not too bad, but he's on crutches and everything," Holmgren said. "I think he's going to be OK."

Eventually, the NFL might say the same about these not-so-same old Seahawks.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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