Surging Seahawks carve up Rams

Monday, December 23, 2002

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks are making a late-season surge behind improving quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Hasselbeck threw for 303 yards and one touchdown, giving Seattle's porous run defense ample time to rest as they tightened against Marshall Faulk and the Seahawks beat the St. Louis Rams 30-10 on Sunday.

"Matt's a good guy and he deserves to have a few good things happen to him," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He's making plays. You see what he can do. He has played pretty well in these few weeks, and I'm happy for him."

Hasselbeck completed 20 of 32 passes without an interception, his third 300-yard passing game since replacing the injured Trent Dilfer eight weeks ago. Seattle (6-9) is 5-4 since then and won for the second straight week.

"It's been fun having wins the last couple of weeks," Hasselbeck said.

The Rams, meanwhile, were stunned by the loss of Marc Bulger.

Bulger, who had been 6-0 as starting quarterback of the Rams (6-9), wasn't around for long against the Seahawks. He injured his back on the team's fourth play from scrimmage and was taken to a hospital, where a CT scan revealed no broken bones, although he won't play in next weekend's season finale against San Francisco. Bulger will have additional tests after the team returns to St. Louis.

Jamie Martin took over, going 31-of-48 for 259 yards with one TD pass and three interceptions.

"It stunned me," coach Mike Martz said. "In my mind, I'm all set for these things that Marc does, and then I have to reload a little bit because I'm not sure where Jamie is with some of these things."

Faulk, who played despite a high ankle sprain that has slowed him the past six weeks, ran nine times for 13 yards. The Rams had 17 yards rushing.

"Holding someone to 17 yards, we really feel like we're coming together," Seattle defensive tackle Chad Eaton said. "Offensively, Matt Hasselbeck is doing things that are just unheard of. He gets my Pro Bowl vote."

Seattle's maligned defense, which ranked last in the NFL allowing 166.9 yards rushing a game, benefited greatly after the Seahawks built an early 6-0 lead. Reggie Tongue had two of Seattle's three interceptions, as the defense forced the Rams into five turnovers.

"It's too bad we got this run going a little late," Tongue said.

Shaun Alexander ran for 79 yards and two TDs, and Hasselbeck's only tangible miscue was a fumble when he was sacked early in the third quarter.

The Seahawks have been wracked by injuries and struggled in Holmgren's fourth season as coach and general manager. It remains to be seen whether he will be asked to relinquish one of his titles or perhaps leave the organization.

"We're not talking about next year right now," Holmgren said. "We have talked a lot about finishing strong, finishing with our heads up, finishing in a professional manner and then to give our fans this game to remember as our last home game of the season. I think that's important."

Seattle led 13-3 at halftime and extended the lead to 20-3 on Alexander's second TD, a 2-yard run with 8:58 remaining in the third quarter. Linebacker Anthony Simmons set up that score when he intercepted a pass by Martin.

St. Louis pulled to 20-10 as Martin converted three times on third downs on a 67-yard drive that he capped with a 5-yard TD pass to Torry Holt.

"Obviously, the turnovers killed us," Martin said. "They have every week that we've lost. Those were my bad plays."

Rian Lindell's 22-yard field goal at the end of the third gave Seattle a 23-10 lead. It was 30-10 with 11:16 to go after Hasselbeck found Darrell Jackson down the right sideline for a 38-yard TD.

Lindell also connected from 31 and 36 yards in the first half. Alexander's 1-yard scoring run made it 13-3 before halftime. That score came one play after tight end Jerramy Stevens was denied on an apparent 30-yard TD when officials determined he was stopped just short of the goal line.Noteworthy

***Rams LB Tommy Polley didn't return after spraining his right ankle in the third quarter.

***Faulk needs 90 yards rushing against the 49ers for his sixth straight 1,000-yard season.

***Alexander's two TDs gave him 17 for the season, breaking the team record of 16 set by Chris Warren in 1995.

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