By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — As thrilling as it was for the Seattle Seahawks to end their two-game slide with a convincing victory on Sunday afternoon, the 33-6 win over St. Louis took a toll on two of the team’s stars.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was playing with a sore oblique muscle. And running back Shaun Alexander, well, he was just sore.
Alexander showed visible signs of frustration on several occasions, the most noticeable of which was when coach Mike Holmgren took him out of the game midway through the fourth quarter. The game was well in hand by that point, and so Holmgren pulled some of his starters — including Alexander and Hasselbeck.
Alexander didn’t looked pleased.
“Anytime we get a (big) lead, I always get pulled, and I’m always fighting it,” a more jovial Alexander told reporters after the game. “He did that a couple of years ago, and I was like, ‘Mike, come on.’ He usually gives me a warning — ‘you’re coming out’ — but it didn’t happen (Sunday).
“I think I’m just one of those people who like to play the whole game and keep it going and see what happens. That’s just how I am.”
Holmgren played down the significance of the sideline exchange.
“He just wants to do well, so he’s probably a little mad at me right now,” Holmgren said after the game. “But in that situation, I get the say.”
Alexander also appeared miffed earlier in the game after he was replaced by backup Maurice Morris on two short-yardage plays in the first quarter. Morris converted a third-and-1 from the St. Louis 5-yard line, and after Alexander returned to the field for tight end Will Heller’s 1-yard touchdown reception, the 30-year-old running back slumped off the field with body language that exposed his frustration.
A few minutes later, Alexander gave way to Morris again, only to see the backup get stopped short on fourth-and-1.
Holmgren said that the plays that were called on each of those instances were plays intended for Morris, adding: “He is not going to have all of the short-yardage plays. It was just (that way in Sunday’s) game.”
Of the decision to use Morris, Holmgren said that the team had been planning to give the backup more carries even before the season began. The coach also acknowledged that Alexander sometimes gets his feelings hurt when he doesn’t get the ball in the red zone.
“He has a lot of pride,” Holmgren said. “He is good down in there. But he also knows, in his quieter moments, that I don’t play favorites down there. Whoever I hand the ball to, or throw the ball to, I want that person to score.”
Alexander finished the game with just 47 rushing yards, marking the third consecutive game in which he’s been held under 50. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 2, marking the longest drought of his career.
Hasselbeck’s afternoon was more painful from a physical standpoint. He admitted afterward that he had felt some tightness in his oblique muscle even before kickoff, but the injury appeared to become worse when he took a hit from Rams defensive tackle Claude Wroten midway through the second quarter.
Prior to that play, Hasselbeck had completed 10 of 14 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, good for a passer rating of 117.0. After the injury, Hasselbeck was 8 of 21 for 91 yards, with a rating of 47.9.
“Obviously, my throws were all over the place and not very accurate” after the injury, said Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck, who came out of the game with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter and the outcome in hand, added that he did not take any shots of pain-killers at halftime.
Both Hasselbeck and Holmgren downplayed the significance of the injury, saying it would not affect him in the future. With a bye week coming up, the quarterback will get some extra healing time.
“I would be fine” if there was a game this Sunday, he said. “And I would have finished (Sunday’s game) if they had asked me to.”
The smart-mouthed quarterback did find some consolation in the injury.
“I’m actually kind of excited,” he said. “They told me I tweaked my oblique, which is awesome because I didn’t know I had any obliques.
“It’s good news, honestly,” he added, poking himself just below the ribs on his right side. “It’s in there somewhere, so I am really happy about that. I’m going to go home and tell my wife.”