Seahawks practically stroll to victory

Hey, at least there's one successful pro sports franchise in town. What's coming between now and the playoffs...
Hey, at least there's one successful pro sports franchise in town. What's coming between now and the playoffs...

The Seattle Seahawks continue their stroll through the weakest set of competitors since Ken Jennings dominated the 2004 "Jeopardy" season. Sunday (Dec. 23) the Hawks gave their fans a Christmas gift with a 27-6 win against a Baltimore Ravens team that hadn't won since Oct. 14 (and likely will finish 4-12 with a loss to Pittsburgh next week). Seattle, meanwhile, will travel to Atlanta for a Dec. 30 season-ender against a 3-12 Atlanta Falcons contingent in a game that can't possibly change the playoff order atop the National Football Conference. The Hawks, as expected the past few weeks, will hold the third seed, probably playing Minnesota or Washington at home either Jan. 5 or 6. A victory would send Mike Holmgren's minions to Green Bay, where Coach Holmy made his name as mentor of the Packers. If the Hawks were to survive that tandem of victories, they'd probably either play at Dallas for a trip to the Super Bowl or host Tampa Bay or the New York Giants for the same fate. Hearty poncho-clad fans seemed satisfied with the final regular-season home game, possibly because a ground attack heretofore absent revealed itself. Shaun Alexander, maligned for much of the season, broke a few first-down gainers, amassing 73 yards in 13 carries (the 5.6 average is much better than he'd attained earlier this season). He also had a touchdown, but on a pass play; it leaves him one short of joining just seven National Football League players to have 100 or more running TDs. A Hawk rushing game that was tending toward negative numbers produced 144 yards against Baltimore, a hundred more than Seattle runners had last week in Carolina. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was effective as usual (18 for 27 for 199 yards and two scores) despite passing for a couple of interceptions. Bobby Engram, a key to the Hawk offense, set a Seattle-franchise season's pass-reception record (88). The local TV-viewing audience, judging from bar-room reports, may actually have tuned in to monitor the progress of the league's best team - perhaps the N.F.L.'s best ever. That would be the New England Patriots, certain to be at least 14-point betting favorites if the Hawks were to face them in the Super Bowl. The Pats met little resistance against the moribund (1-14) Miami Dolphins, putting up 28 quick points like freeway mileage on an odometer. The Patriots mercifully settled for a 28-7 final, moving to 15-0 and pulling within a victory next week against the Giants of becoming the only 16-game undefeated team in league history. More to the point: New England has beaten three division-winners (Pittsburgh, Dallas and Indianapolis). The Seahawks will have defeated just one winning club: Tampa Bay (9-6) in week one. The Hawks could get tough, lucky or both to put together a successful playoff run, but questions remain, and not just about the running game. Many wonder whether the HolmHawks have the focus and drive to survive the pressure of the playoffs. Fans obviously wish the best for the town's most successful pro franchise. But even the most ardent of gaming enthusiasts must doubt that future "Jeopardy" competitors will give "Who are the Seattle Seahawks?" as the question going with: "They won the 2008 Super Bowl."


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