Alexander apologizes to fans for postgame rant

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Shaun Alexander apologized Monday to fans -- but not his coach or teammates -- for saying he was "stabbed in the back" by Mike Holmgren's quarterback sneak call that may have cost him a rushing title.

"I'm human," Alexander said at team headquarters. "Anybody can, at one time, pop off. I've done it several times. I think in the position I'm in, I need to own up to it."

Alexander created a stir after Seattle won the NFC West by beating Atlanta 28-26 on Sunday. Immediately after the game, he used strong language to challenge Holmgren's play call.

"We were going to win anyway," Alexander said after the game. "We were on the freakin' goal line, and I got stabbed in the back."

Curtis Martin of the New York Jets ran for 153 yards in a loss at St. Louis and edged Alexander by 1 yard for the rushing title, the closest margin ever.

"It got the best of me," Alexander said Monday. "I definitely blurted out stuff I shouldn't have said. I wouldn't want to take any light away from this team and what we have accomplished."

Alexander said he hadn't spoken to Holmgren and insisted there was no reason to apologize to him or teammates. They know him well enough, he explained, to realize he puts winning ahead of statistics.

Holmgren wasn't available for comment Monday.

"It's really simple," Alexander said. "I would have loved to have the record. But by no means does it have anything to do with taking any light, any excitement, any joy from this team and all the hard work we put together to win the division."

It was a huge win for the Seahawks (9-7), who earned a home game in the wild-card round Saturday against division rival St. Louis. A loss would have sent Seattle on the road to play the Rams.

"I'm all about winning," he said during a rambling 30-minute news conference.

In postgame remarks, Holmgren indicated he had wanted Alexander to win the title. The Falcons drove 69 yards in the final 4:28 to pull within 28-26 before failing to convert the 2-point try.

"It's too bad we didn't get the ball back," Holmgren said. "They ate up the clock with their final drive. Shaun had a chance at the rushing championship, and just missed it. That was too bad. I would have liked to seen him get it."

The Seahawks went ahead 28-20 with 4:28 remaining when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck scored on a 1-yard sneak on second-and-goal.

Alexander agreed Monday it was the right call, but said it felt at the time "like gasoline on the fire" because he knew he was close to the rushing title. He insisted he didn't know exactly how many yards he needed.

"I just figured someone was doing the math," he said.

It's been a great season for Alexander.

The fifth-year running back, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, reached the Pro Bowl for the second straight year with a career-high and franchise-record 1,696 yards rushing.

His 16 TDs rushing matched his team record from 2002, and his team-record 20 total TDs made him the 10th player in NFL history with 20 or more in a season.

"I don't even know who won the rushing title last year, but I know who won the Super Bowl," said Alexander, who finished with 80 yards rushing on 19 attempts against Atlanta.

Alexander led Martin by 72 yards going into the regular season's final weekend. Martin had 24 yards on three carries in overtime at St. Louis and finished with 1,697 yards on the season.

"I think Shaun Alexander has had as good a year as any running back in the NFL," Hasselbeck said Sunday. "His teammates feel that way, his coaches feel that way, and he should know that."

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