Signs of Life

Matt Hasselbeck overcame injured ribs to beat the St. Louis Rams last month. Now he'll try to do it again.

The Seattle Seahawks hope Hasselbeck's likely absence from practice all week does not have a negative effect on their resurgent offense in an NFC West matchup Sunday with a Rams team which has been showing signs of life.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Seattle -3  point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 44.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Seattle -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Each squad goes into the Edward Jones Dome having won two straight, but Seattle (6-4) is atop the division with a one-game lead over Arizona while St. Louis (2-8) shares the NFC's worst record with San Francisco.

The Seahawks beat the Rams for the fifth straight time on Oct. 21, winning 33-6 as Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes to tight end Will Heller. A hit to the ribs early in the second quarter left Hasselbeck hurting, and he had one of his worst games of the season statistically with 195 yards on 18-of-35 passing with an interception.

Another shot to the ribs bothered Hasselbeck for much of last Sunday's game against Chicago, but he went 30-of-44 for 337 yards with two TDs and no interceptions in a 30-23 victory.

"When you win a game, you feel no pain for a while," said Hasselbeck, the NFL's seventh highest-rated passer. "I don't know if it is adrenaline or what, but it's like tomorrow morning is when you find out how you really feel."

Apparently he was not feeling great, prompting coach Mike Holmgren to say Hasselbeck would be unlikely to practice this week even though he should be able to start on Sunday.

"What he has to do is prepare himself to play without getting the practice time," Holmgren said. "And I think he can do this. It's not unprecedented at the quarterback position. He can pull it off."

Hasselbeck may be particularly motivated to stay in the lineup, not only to keep the Seahawks going in the right direction but because Holmgren has gone to a more wide-open passing offense the past two weeks.

The new attack puts Hasselbeck in the shotgun more frequently and eight different Seattle receivers have caught passes in both games, led by D.J. Hackett with back-to-back 100-yard performances and two touchdowns.

"It's amazing how the quarterback is throwing and getting it in there," said fullback Leonard Weaver. "We're rolling."

The Rams have gotten on a bit of a roll, with road victories over New Orleans and San Francisco following a winless first half of the season.

St. Louis, though, is 0-4 at home, and now looks to avoid its longest home losing streak since dropping eight straight over the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

One key to the last two wins was having running back Steven Jackson back at full strength. He had missed four games with a torn groin muscle and missed most of one other with a back problem.

Jackson has 212 total yards and a touchdown in the last two weeks.

"We're really showing we're not going to lay down or roll over," Jackson said. "We dug ourselves in a deep hole, and now we're trying to catapult ourselves out of it."

The Pro Bowler, though, has failed to crack 100 yards on the ground in six career games against Seattle. The Seahawks have limited the Rams to an average of 74.4 rushing yards in the last five meetings.

Jackson might have an easier time finding holes, and Marc Bulger would probably stay upright more often, if the Rams were not so banged-up along the offensive line. Four starters, including All-Pro tackle Orlando Pace, have been lost for the season and that has led to St. Louis quarterbacks being sacked 35 times - second-most in the league to Detroit (42).

Center Brett Romberg could return from a sprained ankle that has kept him sidelined the past three games, but the more notable addition is Todd Steussie. The 13-year veteran could end up starting after just re-signing with the team on Tuesday.

"He's one of those guys who works very hard to keep in shape," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "He's going to have to get himself as close to playing shape as he can this week."

Bulger was sacked six times last Sunday in a 13-9 victory over the 49ers as St. Louis won despite being held to 207 total yards - its second-worst output of the season.

For the second straight week, the Rams forced two turnovers and held the opposition below 300 total yards. They have given up a total of 75 rushing yards in those two victories.

That gives Seattle all the more reason to rely on Hasselbeck and the passing game, even though Maurice Morris has played well recently while 2005 league MVP Shaun Alexander has been struggling or hurt. Morris has rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown in each of the last two games.

Alexander, held to 2.4 yards per carry and 139 rushing yards in his last four appearances, could miss a third straight game Sunday due to a sprained knee.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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