KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) -In another circumstance, the idea of Seattle's Shaun Alexander being asked to split carries with another back might have developed into a contentious situation.
Not with Maurice Morris, Alexander's teammate for the last six seasons, the one sharing time.
``We have a great relationship and it's always been like that,'' Alexander said. ``Mo's given me some of the greatest tips during games when I was getting the playing time. Since I've been hurt and been out, I've been doing the same thing with Mo.''
After missing the previous three games with a sprained knee, Alexander returned last week, at a time when the Seahawks (8-4) were rolling with three straight wins and Morris proving again to be more than just an adequate backup.
As expected, Alexander's return took away carries from Morris, but the duo combined for 129 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns in Seattle's 28-24 win in Philadelphia. That win set the stage for this week, when a win over Arizona on Sunday will wrap up Seattle's fourth straight NFC West title.
``People are just now getting to see the stuff that we already know, that Mo is super talented,'' Alexander said. ``So we're going to do what we always done, which is put ourselves in a chance to win. That's what we're all about.''
It has been a difficult season for Seattle's running game. Two years ago, when the Seahawks rolled through the NFC to their only Super Bowl appearance, Alexander and his offensive line was unstoppable, racking up 2,457 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns. That was Alexander's MVP season when he accounted for 27 of those scores and 1,880 yards.
But the last two seasons haven't remotely resembled 2005. This season, Seattle is eighth in the NFC in rushing, averaging less than 100 yards per game and just 3.7 yards per carry. Alexander has been repeatedly booed at home, despite dealing with a broken left wrist that has forced him to wear a cast most of the season.
Alexander has 557 yards this season, averaging 3.3 per carry. Morris has 446 yards and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
The problems with the run game led coach Mike Holmgren to pronounce early in November that the Seahawks were becoming more pass oriented. Not surprisingly the Seahawks have won all four games since that decision.
While the numbers were skewed toward the pass in previous weeks, last week against Philadelphia brought more balance. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw 34 times, while Alexander and Seattle's other backs had 29 carries.
``When we kind of changed emphasis a little bit, and I've had a few conversations with Shaun, I think he recognizes that the little shift of emphasis helped the football team,'' Holmgren said. ``And down the road will probably help the numbers of whoever is playing halfback for us.''
Since Ricky Watters arrived to be the featured back in 1998, the Seahawks have based their running game primarily upon one player, with only situational substitutions or injury fill-ins.
But the idea of splitting carries is proving successful for many teams this year. Jacksonville (Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew), Dallas (Marion Barber and Julius Jones), Minnesota (Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor) and the New York Giants (Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs) have all used duos to their benefit.
Hasselbeck doesn't really care who's behind him, understanding the individual skills of Morris and Alexander bring a different dimension to the Seahawks' offense.
``I just have to know my personnel, notice who's in there when I break the huddle, and away we go,'' Hasselbeck said. ``I think it makes it tougher to defend us just because we're not one-dimensional or two-dimensional, I think we're kind of a three-dimensional backfield.''

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