Seahawks 34, Packers 24
Tuesday, November 28th 2006, 6:13 am
By: News On 6
SEATTLE (AP) _ It took unprecedented Seattle snow, Matt Hasselbeck struggling in his return from an injury and Shaun Alexander's career-high workload to get the league MVP to stop asking Mike Holmgren for 50 carries.
``I used to always crack jokes like I want to get the ball 50 times a game,'' Alexander said. ``I've changed my mind now _ 40 is good.''
Forty was way good enough for Alexander's season-high 201 yards rushing and return to relevance that rallied the Seahawks to a 34-24 victory over the fading Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin-like snow Monday night.
``I feel like I need a massage and a cold whirlpool and some good rest,'' said Alexander, who bested his previous high of 35 carries.
He abruptly returned to 2005 MVP form after missing six games with a broken foot and gaining an average of just 56 yards in four games sandwiched around the injury. His re-emergence _ on a foot that is still cracked _ came on a night in which the long injury layoff affected Hasselbeck far more than the driving snow that blanketed the field.
``Ah, sure. Some of it was probably that,'' Hasselbeck said. ``Some of it was sloppy, I don't know. I would like to know.''
The Pro Bowl quarterback had three interceptions and fumble that Abdul Hodge returned for a touchdown _ all in the first half _ against Green Bay's 31st-ranked pass defense. While Hodge was giving Green Bay a 14-9 lead, Hasselbeck stayed facemask down in the snow for what seemed like a full minute, pounding the turf.
``I'm probably would have been there longer, but it was cold and wet,'' he said.
Josh Brown kept Seattle in the game with four field goals in the opening half. That bided time until Hasselbeck rebounded with three touchdowns in the second half. Those perfectly placed passes to D.J. Hackett, Darrell Jackson and Jerramy Stevens erased a 21-12 deficit over the final 21 minutes. Hasselbeck finished 17-for-36 for 157 yards.
Alexander's romps _ plus key, third-down penalties on Packers defenders Patrick Dendy (illegally contacting a receiver) and Cullen Jenkins (roughing Hasselbeck) repeatedly put Hasselbeck in position for his redemption.
``That was not the plan coming into the game,'' Holmgren said of Alexander's 40 carries. ``I really felt we could throw the ball against them pretty good.
``But things were happening, so I kind of took the ball out of Matt's hands for a while.''
The first snow at a Seattle home game seemed like a more natural setting for the Packers. But Brett Favre fell to 41-9 when the temperature is 34 degrees or colder in his 252nd straight start _ and 32nd and possibly his final appearance on a Monday night.
Favre found Donald Driver for a 48-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half to give Green Bay a 21-12 lead. That give him 410 touchdowns for his career, 10 away from Dan Marino for the league record. At the time, it appeared this would be a triumphant rebound from a bruised elbow that knocked Favre out of his previous game.
Instead, Alexander skated across this new frozen tundra to send the up-and-down Seahawks (7-4) to a two-game lead in the weak NFC West with just five regular season games remaining.
Favre was 22-for-36 for 266 yards, after not practicing last week until Friday. His season-high three interceptions helped doom the Packers (4-7) to what is now likely a second consecutive season without a playoff berth.
``I thought the ball came off his hand accurately,'' Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. ``I don't know. You'll have to ask him.''
However, Favre did not make himself available for postgame interviews.
His first interception was a force intended for the well-covered Bubba Franks after the Packers moved into good field position in the first quarter. Kelly Herndon intercepted that _ and kept it.
``On the ball, I'll probably put, 'An interception from Brett Favre,''' Herndon said.
The next two interceptions came with Green Bay in comeback mode _ one an overthrow intended for Chris Francies that Marcus Trufant intercepted and left Favre disgustedly waving his hand at the play. The second was an underthrow that resulted in Kelly Jennings' first career pick with 3:46 to go. Favre showed none of his trademark fire after that one _ simply walking off the field.
He fell to 17-15 on Monday nights and 3-2 against his old coach, Mike Holmgren, who helped turn the gunslinging quarterback into a star and combined with Favre for Green Bay's Super Bowl title in 1996.
At game's end, Favre ran across the field to meet Holmgren on Seattle's side of the field. They exchanged a long hug and pats on the back before Favre jogged off the field into his locker room.