SEATTLE (AP) -- His head pounding and his day over, Shaun
Alexander walked off the field at halftime and flashed the "OK"
He was right.
Despite losing the NFL MVP to an early concussion, the Seattle
Seahawks ended their 21-year playoff drought Saturday by beating
the Washington Redskins 20-10 behind Matt Hasselbeck and a stout
"I told Matt at halftime that he had to shoulder the load,"
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We always put a lot on his
shoulders, but I told him that now he had to do a little bit
He threw for a touchdown and ran for another as the Seahawks
advanced to the NFC title game next week against the winner of
Sunday's game in Chicago between Carolina and the Bears.
Holmgren said he was optimistic that Alexander will be able to
play. Alexander, injured in the first 10½ minutes, did not talk to
The win ended the longest run without a postseason victory by
any NFL team -- Seattle had been 0-6 since its last playoff win on
Dec. 22, 1984. Next week's game will be the second title game in the franchise's 30-year history -- the Seahawks played for the AFC
championship after the 1983 season.
"I don't know if it was me. Those other guys stepped up,"
Hasselbeck said. "It was really a team win today."
Alexander, who scored an NFL-record 28 touchdowns this season
and led the league with 1,880 yards rushing, lost a fumble without
being hit at the Washington 11 on Seattle's opening drive. He was
then hurt with 4:29 left in the first quarter and did not return.
Without Alexander, this became Hasselbeck's game.
Not only did he complete 16-of-26 passes for 215 yards and a
29-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson, but he
scrambled around the right side for a 6-yard TD in the third
"I think he was awesome," said wide receiver Joe Jurevicius,
one of the few Seahawks with Super Bowl experience. "He loses his
starting running back and he's able to overcome that with no
Indeed, Hasselbeck's work helped overcome three costly turnovers
-- one that kept Seattle from scoring in the first period, a second
that led to a Washington field goal and a third in the fourth
quarter that the Redskins squandered.
Jackson had nine receptions for 143 yards despite playing with a
The Seahawks (14-3) stopped Washington's six-game winning
streak. The Redskins (11-7) were inept on offense for the second
week in a row -- they had 140 yards in the first three quarters
after getting a total of just 120 in last week's win at Tampa Bay.
"That's my responsibility," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said.
"Obviously we wanted to be much more productive than what we were
in the playoffs. We have to look to see how we can do a better job
And had it not been for Seattle's mistakes, the Redskins never
would have been in the game against a Seattle defense was able to
concentrate on stopping Clinton Portis' running because only Moss
and tight end Chris Cooley were receiving threats.
"If he's not playing at a Pro Bowl level, their offense
struggles," Seattle defensive end Bryce Fisher said of Portis, who
gained 41 yards on 17 carries.
After Josh Brown's 33-yard field goal gave the Seahawks a 17-3
lead early in the third quarter, the Redskins finally got going.
Brunell hit a wide-open Cooley for 52 yards, then completed a
20-yard TD pass to Moss that deflected off the helmet of Seattle's
That cut the Seattle lead to a touchdown just 3:01 into the
final quarter. Then Josh Scobee fumbled the kickoff and kicker John
Hall recovered, but Hall missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt that
could have cut it to four.
Brown clinched it with a 31-yard field goal with 2:54 left.
Said Hasselbeck: "We've got a great feeling in our locker room
right now because we did come together. We overcame adversity."
After that first series when Alexander fumbled, there were nine
straight three-and-outs, five by the Redskins and four by the
Seahawks. Washington never got beyond its own 22 until the second
But after Washington's fifth futile series, Jimmy Williams
fumbled Derrick Frost's punt at his own 39 and Pierson Prioleau
recovered for Washington. From there the Redskins plodded their way
to the Seattle 7, setting up Hall's 26-yard field goal that gave
them a 3-0 lead.
The Seahawks finally got going after that with Hasselbeck using
his legs as well as his arm. He scrambled for 16 yards to help keep
the drive moving, then finally hit Jackson, single-covered by
safety Ryan Clark, from the Washington 29 to make it 7-3.
Seattle then went 81 yards on 10 plays on their first possession
of the second half to make it 14-3 with Hasselbeck scrambling in
for the touchdown.
Jackson's 143 yards receiving was a postseason record for
the Seahawks. ... Washington guard Ray Brown, at 43 the oldest
lineman in modern NFL history, played his last game after 20
seasons. ... Brown, wide receiver Taylor Jacobs and cornerback
Shawn Springs all had to leave the game temporarily for Washington.
.... A 32-yard run fourth-quarter by Seattle fullback Mack Strong
that helped set up the clinching field goal was the longest in his
13-season NFL career.