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Alexander rushes for 108 yards, 2 TDs

9/8/2003

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle Seahawks showed last season they can
move the ball. And while it's only one game, the biggest difference
this year appears to be that they can stop it, too.

Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes and Shaun Alexander
ran for 108 yards and scored twice, and Seattle's retooled defense
looked good Sunday in a 27-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

"We had to play well to win this game," coach Mike Holmgren
said. "I think you saw we have a chance to be improved on
defense."

Seattle's defense held the Saints to 103 yards rushing,
meaningful because the Seahawks ranked last in the NFL last season,
giving up 152.6 yards rushing per game.

Question on the Saints: So when will we see this new and improved defense?

We'll see it just as soon as the coaching philosophy changes. The Saints don't have the personnel to play the man-coverage, blitzing schemes they play. They might be better served playing a "Cover 2."

Question on the Seahawks: Do the Seahawks have the most explosive offense in the division?
No, the nod for that title goes to the 49ers with the Seahawks coming in a close second.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

It's harder to measure the number of hard hits the Seattle
defenders put on the Saints, but the influence of new defensive
coordinator Ray Rhodes was evident in the team's more aggressive
play.

"That's what we talked about all week, being physical with
these guys," cornerback Willie Williams said. "We're coming out
with a different attitude this year. Hopefully, we can play like
that every week."

The Seahawks scored 21 straight points in the second quarter,
reaching the end zone on each of their possessions to erase the
Saints' early 3-0 lead.

"We missed a couple of tackles in the second quarter that led
to big plays, and we didn't move the ball very well," New Orleans
coach Jim Haslett said. "It was a combination of everything."

Alexander started the binge with a 1-yard dive, Hasselbeck threw
a 35-yard TD strike to Koren Robinson and, later, a 10-yard TD pass
to Alexander. Josh Brown added a 37-yard field goal in the third
period.

"We wanted to wear them down," Alexander said. "Those guys
are big, and we wanted to run them sideline to sideline. But we had
the most success when we ran straight at them."

The Seahawks averaged an NFL-best 475 yards over the final six
weeks last season, winning their last three games.

"We're confident going into the huddle," Hasselbeck said. "We
feel we can score on anybody. We have to do it, and we didn't do it
as much as we should have today."

Chike Okeafor, who joined the Seahawks as a free agent, got his
first career interception in the third quarter to set up Brown's
37-yarder, and forced a fourth-quarter fumble that led to Brown's
25-yard kick.

"We made some nice sticks. We need to keep that up," Okeafor
said.

New Orleans, the NFC's highest-scoring team last season, managed
only 10 points because of four turnovers. The Saints had won four
of their last five openers, but they fell behind in the second
quarter and never recovered.

"The offensive performance was unacceptable," quarterback
Aaron Brooks said. "We're better than this. We've got to get back
to the drawing board. We've got to talk about this."

Deuce McAllister of the Saints had 99 yards rushing on 22
carries and Brooks completed 29 of 47 passes for 274 yards with one
interception. He threw a 2-yard TD pass to Joe Horn in the fourth
quarter.

The Seahawks had two rookies starting in the secondary, Marcus
Trufant at cornerback and Ken Hamlin at free safety. They both
played well, with Hamlin putting a highlight-reel hit on Donte'
Stallworth, knocking his helmet loose.

"He cut back on me," Hamlin said. "I was trying to hit the
hole. I was just coming downhill, trying to make a big play."

Frustrations mounted for the Saints. Late in the third quarter,
Horn shoved Hamlin just after Brooks lost a fumbled snap and
Seattle's Anthony Simmons came away with the ball.

Alexander's 1-yard TD plunge put Seattle ahead 7-3. New Orleans
committed its first turnover on the ensuing possession. Ken Lucas
forced a fumble by Michael Lewis on an end-around, and Antonio
Cochran recovered for the Seahawks.

Moments later, Hasselbeck threw to Robinson, who bounced off a
hit by Tebucky Jones and Fakhir Brown and sprinted untouched the
rest of the way to make it 14-3.

The Seahawks forced another punt, and Hasselbeck worked the
two-minute offense to produce a 77-yard drive, capped by a 10-yard
pass to Alexander.

Notes: Seattle FB Mack Strong broke a 20-yard run in the second
quarter, the longest run of his 11-year NFL career. ... The Saints
opened on the road for the third straight year. They beat the Bills
in 2001 and won at Tampa Bay last season. ... Seahawks rookie FB
Chris Davis left in the second quarter with a knee injury. Holmgren
didn't know the extent of the injury, but said Davis will be
evaluated late Sunday. ... Saints defensive end Darren Howard
will miss up to three months after dislocating his right wrist.