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Seattle gets rare road win

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Seattle Seahawks need not fear the road.

With Shaun Alexander leading the way, the Seahawks were
sure-footed on their first trip of the 2004 season.

Alexander scored three touchdowns Sunday to get the Seahawks off
to a good start with a 21-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Seattle was 2-6 on the road last season, but used its first journey
to start working on expectations the Seahawks will be strong
contenders for the NFC title.

"Winning on the road, you must do that to win the
championship," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. "We understand
that. But the curse and all the ghosts, I don't believe in any of
that stuff. Usually if your team is a little bit better, you win on
the road."

Playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL,
Alexander rushed for 135 yards on 28 carries. He ran for two
touchdowns and caught another.

Alexander had his knee wrapped after the game, said it was sore,
but doctors told him it was all right.

"Nothing hurt worse than when the doctors were tugging at it
and all," Alexander said. "But I'm assuming I'm going to be all
right."

Holmgren also thought the injury was minor.

Matt Hasselbeck completed 19 of 29 passes for 246 yards and a
touchdown. Darrell Jackson had seven receptions for 98 yards.

Seattle outgained New Orleans 415 yards to 281 and outrushed the
Saints 194-74. The Saints converted only three of 14 third-downs.

It was the second straight year the Seahawks defeated the Saints
to open the season.

The New Orleans game plan had been simple: Keep Alexander from
having a big game and don't turn over the ball. The Saints weren't
able to do either, losing the ball three times. They also had eight
penalties for 68 yards to slow them.

"This game boiled down to our good players making mistakes,"
Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "We had two fumbles going in for
scores and a couple of penalties that put us in bad position."

After being shut out for a quarter, the Seahawks scored on the
first play of the second period. Hasselbeck hit Alexander, who was
alone of the left side and scampered 14 yards for the score.

Later in the quarter, Alexander did it again. Warding off Saints
tacklers with his right arm, he rushed 6 yards to make it 14-0.

"I said a lot of prayers today," Alexander said. "I was
praying my line was going to play great and they did. And that Matt
would get me into good positions for catching some passes and he
did."

Aaron Brooks had little preseason work because of a leg injury,
but he wasn't the reason the Saints offense was ragged. Receivers
dropped passes and the running game sputtered -- Deuce McAllister
had only 26 yards on 10 carries in the first half, 57 yards on 16
carries for the game. New Orleans burned its third timeout with
5:10 left in the first half when it could not get lined up properly
for the play called.

"No gap, no hole to run through," McAllister said. "We didn't
play well. Our rhythm was in spurts."

After nine games with more than 100 yards rushing last season,
McAllister has now had five straight without 100 yards.

Saints receivers ran the wrong patterns or couldn't get open.
Brooks got a flag for intentional grounding on a broken play.

Brooks was 18-of-37 for 223 yards and a touchdown. He was
intercepted once, his first in 254 pass attempts. He was also
pressured the entire game, scrambled for just 16 yards and was
sacked twice.

Joe Horn caught six passes for 110 yards.

The Saints finally scored on a 6-yard pass to Ernie Conwell to
make it 14-7 at the half. Brooks fueled the drive with a 14-yard
run after finding no receivers open.

Grant Wistrom tipped a pass from Brooks into Michael Boulware's
hands to set up a third-quarter Seattle touchdown. Two plays later,
Alexander did his thing again, running 9 yards to make it 21-7.

"We heard before the game they were going to wear us out,"
Wistrom said. "When you hear that, we kind of take it personal, so
we went out and played solid defense all day."

Game notes
Seattle is now (9-20) in season openers. New Orleans is
(11-27) in season openers, the NFL's fourth-worst record. ... It
was Seattle's fourth straight victory in the series. Holmgren is
5-0 lifetime against the Saints. ... It was the first
regular-season home opener for the Saints since a 14-10 loss to
Detroit in 2000 ... Saints DT Bryan Young had a hip flexor.

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