Seahawks Get Back on Track Against Ravens

Seahawks Get Back on Track Against Ravens

One week after giving too little pressure and too wide a berth to first-time starter Matt Moore, the Seahawks altered their game plan against first-time starter and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. Seattle brought pressure from many different spots, utilizing linebacker Julian Peterson as a rush end especially effectively.

Smith was sacked twice, and though he showed good composure under near-constant pressure, he was able to complete only 16 of 33 passes.

"Troy was a wonderful college player," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said after the game. "I will say the same thing I said last week. When you go against a quarterback that hasn’t played very much, if you don’t pressure him, you’re really giving him a chance to use his athletic ability, and you don’t want to do that. You don’t want to give him much hope at all, early on in his career. So, I was pleased with the pressure we got today. It is tough duty for a rookie quarterback."

-- Despite the Ravens having the second-best run defense in the NFL, allowing an average of 77 yards a game, Seattle had its best production of the season, totaling 144 yards on 36 carries.

Shaun Alexander had 73 yards on 13 carries, his 5.3-yard average the highest of the season.

"Every week we try to get better," Alexander said. "We wanted to come out and do some things well and try a couple of wrinkles with some stuff and see how it went. We did some of it really good, and some of it we still have to work on. It's our goal to be playing on fire when it really counts. After you get into the playoffs, it's a dangerous situation because you could be spiraling backwards, and we've had a team like that before, a couple of years ago. Winning this game was important for us, and getting our offense to do a couple of things right."

The other thing is that the offense should be getting back starting split end D.J. Hackett, who has missed the past three weeks with a high ankle sprain.

For Hackett and Hasselbeck to work on their timing for the playoffs, they both need to play against the Falcons.

"It is no fun to watch," Hasselbeck said. "I sat around and watched for three years, and it's boring. So, I would like to play. That's (coach's) call. He has to make those decisions, and I just do what I am told."

With the Seahawks clinching the third seed in the NFC by virtue of their win over the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay's loss to San Francisco, Seattle's game against Atlanta means absolutely nothing.

Well, it means something to defensive backs coach Jim Mora, who was fired by the Falcons last season. And it means something to Patrick Kerney, who voided the last two years in his contract to leave the Falcons and sign a six-year, $39 million contract with the Seahawks.

But to the rest of the Seahawks team, which has no emotional ties to Atlanta, the game can neither help them nor hurt them.

And so the question becomes how exactly coach Mike Holmgren treats this game. Does he rest some of his key personnel so that they don't get injured? Or does he play it like it is another normal game, attempting to build on the momentum established in Seattle's sixth win in seven games?

Holmgren said that two years ago, when the Seahawks had clinched the top seed en route to the Super Bowl, he took the last game off against Green Bay and didn't like the feeling.

Preliminarily, at least, Holmgren said he will treat the Falcons game like any other.

"We're going to have to talk about that," Holmgren said. "My initial feeling right now is that we're going to play. I'm not going to make wholesale changes. I'm not going to do that. We'll get that decided in the next couple of days."

If the Seahawks play a first half against Atlanta like they did against the depleted Ravens -- Seattle took a 21-0 lead -- they could rest their starters the entire second half and it wouldn't make a difference.

But what Holmgren likely wants to do is build on the positive feelings established by the run game against Baltimore.

PLAYER NOTES

--DT Rocky Bernard did not play because of a sore groin; it was the first game he has missed this year. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Craig Terrill. The Ravens gained 106 yards on 27 rushing attempts for an average of 3.9 yards.

--DE Darryl Tapp got a half sack, his first sack in five games.

--WR Bobby Engram became the franchise's single-season leader in receptions. His five catches gave him 90 for the season.

--QB Matt Hasselbeck threw two TD passes, becoming the franchise's single season leader for TD passes with 27.

--DE Patrick Kerney had another sack, giving him 14.5 for the season, the league leader. If he wins the sack title, he will be the second Seahawk to accomplish the feat. Michael Sinclair had 16.5 sacks in 1998.

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