It’s big, but not do-or-die

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, September 23, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – A little less than a year ago, in Week 4 of the 2005 NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks entered a much-ballyhooed meeting with the Washington Redskins amid talk of a year-altering outcome.

The Seahawks were coming off back-to-back victories and could establish themselves as one of the best teams in the NFC with a win over the unbeaten Redskins.

But Seattle lost that game, and all signs pointed toward another mediocre season in Seahawkland.

Lo and behold, the Seahawks bounced back from its all-important loss by winning 11 consecutive games and eventually going to the Super Bowl.

So when people talk about the importance of today’s game against the New York Giants, they do it with a touch of premature finality.

Today’s game might feature two of the most well-respected teams in the NFC, but that doesn’t mean it’s a do-or-die game.

“It’s early,” receiver Bobby Engram said. “But it’s important because they’re predicted to be one of the better teams in the NFC.

“We’re just trying to win every game. It’s a big game, but we just have to look at it as another step on the road to where we want to go.”

Then again, there are others who use hyperboles to describe the Seahawks-Giants game.

“Every game is important. And this one is like our Super Bowl,” Seahawks safety Michael Boulware said. “It’s our biggest game of the year, and we’re approaching it that way. And once we get past it, the next game will be our biggest game.”

Today’s game is the biggest the Seahawks have played this season, at least in terms of potential contenders. For all the talk about Detroit and Arizona being improved teams this season, Seattle’s first two opponents didn’t come in with quite the pedigree for success that the Giants do.

New York (1-1) bounced back from a season-opening loss against Indianapolis and rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit last week to beat Philadelphia in overtime. While the 2-0 Seahawks are trying to fix some offensive problems, the Giants are riding high.

“They’re coming in here after that big win at Philadelphia, so they’re feeling good,” Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones said. “We’re just getting ready for the challenge.”

The Giants have been far from perfect in their first two games, but they still find themselves in a three-way tie atop the competitive NFC East. They could just as easily be two games behind the Eagles (1-1) if not for last Sunday’s miraculous rally from sure defeat.

“I think it was a big help for our morale and our spirits right now,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress in overtime to seal last Sunday’s victory. “There is a big difference between being 0-2 and 1-1.”

The Giants can take another step in the right direction by knocking off the defending NFC champions today. So even though the calendar says it’s September, there will be some stakes on the line this afternoon at Qwest Field.

“You’re talking about the team that was the NFC representative at the Super Bowl back in February,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “You’re talking about teams that are always aspiring to get to the point where they were. Certainly it’s a big game.”

A big game, maybe. But not big enough to bury the losing team’s chances six feet underground.

“It’s going to be one of those deals where it might not necessarily be hyped up by the people in this locker room,” receiver Nate Burleson said. “We’re going to go out there and approach it just like any other game and try to make a statement.”

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