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Who'll stop the run?

Green Bay running back Ryan Grant bulldozed Seattle nine months ago in a playoff game. Given the Seahawks' recent rush defense woes, will it be any different come Sunday?

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
  • Green Bay running back Ryan Grant (25) scampers past Seattle cornerback Kelly Jennings during the first half of the Packersí 
42-20 playoff victory o...

    Associated Press

    Green Bay running back Ryan Grant (25) scampers past Seattle cornerback Kelly Jennings during the first half of the Packersí 42-20 playoff victory over the Seahawks on Jan. 12. Grant ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns in the game.

RENTON -- The indignity of having to relive the sight of New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs pounding down the Seattle Seahawks' defense on film was soon replaced by an equally humiliating visual this week.
Cue the Ryan Grant tape.
Nine months ago, the Green Bay Packers' running back put on one of the most impressive postseason performances in recent memory when he overcame two early fumbles to rush for 201 yards against the Seahawks. Seattle's defenders probably didn't need the visual reminder this week, as the performance already was burned in many of their psyches.
"That's one of the things about this league: we're going to see that game a few times," safety Brian Russell said earlier this week, before Wednesday's showing of video lowlights from the playoff game. "If anything, it's going to be motivating. He's a good back.
"We're going to see what happened last year, but we'll see a lot of good backs (this season). He's our test this week, and we've got to focus on bringing him down as much as we can -- hopefully behind the line of scrimmage."
If last Sunday's meltdown wasn't enough motivation for the Seahawks to get their run defense in order, the presence of Grant certainly is.
"I love to get revenge," safety Deon Grant said. "I'm not a guarantee person, but when I have an opportunity to go out and get revenge on a person, I'm going to take full advantage of it."
Deon Grant was one of the few Seahawks taking direct aim at Ryan Grant.
Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu said that the running back was only one of many Packers offensive stars that can hurt a defense. He summed up Ryan Grant's playoff performance by saying: "That was last year."
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane called film of the Green Bay playoff game a "learning experience."
And outside linebacker Julian Peterson said that the game film actually provided some hope.
"Now we're looking at it like, OK, just make sure you get in the (correct) gap," he said Wednesday afternoon after breaking down game tape. "And if you're in the right gap, there's nowhere to run. You don't have to worry about anyone else's responsibilities."
Ryan Grant, a second-year player from Notre Dame, hasn't exactly built on the momentum of last January's performance. After a summer-long contract dispute, he hurt his hamstring in the preseason and has gotten off to a slow start in 2008. Grant ranks 13th in the NFC with 269 rushing yards, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that injuries _ to both the offensive line and Grant _ have affected his team's running game.
"He is definitely getting closer" to a clean bill of health, McCarthy said of Grant. "I don't think any of the players in the National Football League are 100 percent (healthy) in week 6. Everybody is a little beat up, but he is improving and getting back into the groove."
No matter what the videotapes from the first five games might show, the Seahawks know all too well what kind of damage Grant can do.
"We're not taking anyone for granted, even though he's not having the year that he had last year," Mebane said. "We know that he has the capability of running the ball well."
Rightfully so. The Seahawks rank 24th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (129.5). Almost half (254) of the 518 rushing yards allowed came in Sunday's 44-6 loss to the Giants.
Peterson said that he's got plenty of motivation for this Sunday's game.
"From last week," he said. "Damn what happened last year. We've got too much talent on this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, to have that happen to us."
The playoff game was even more frustrating because of the way it started. Two Grant fumbles helped the Seahawks take a quick 14-0 lead, only to see Green Bay outscore Seattle 42-6 the rest of the way.
"They ran up the score a little bit on us in the playoffs," Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson said, "but sometimes that's going to happen in football."
Asked whether he was offended by the Packers' onslaught of points in the January game, Wilson clarified his statement.
"This is the NFL," he said. "If you're not scoring, they're going to keep scoring. It's not like college, where somebody runs up the score.
"In the NFL, every team is just as good as every other team. If you score 34 in the first half, they could score 34 in the second half. You've got to keep scoring. There's no such thing as running up the score in the NFL."
Green Bay's McCarthy said the key to the Packers' success in the playoff game was the fact that the coaches stuck with Grant after the early turnovers. The then-rookie bounced back to set a franchise record for rushing yards in a postseason game.
The Seahawks are hoping things will be different this time around _ and not just because they're out for revenge.
"We've got to get our swagger back," Deon Grant said. "Right now, we shouldn't be looking for respect from anybody. We just haven't been good.
"I like to take respect. I like to go out and earn respect. What better team to go out and earn respect than the team that started this embarrassment? We haven't been the same team since that game."
Story tags » Seahawks

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