Seahawks running back needs new touchdown dance

KIRKLAND — The television commercial probably would have tickled funny bones all over the Seattle area if the year was 2005. But these days, Shaun Alexander might feel like the stand-up comedian who can’t buy a laugh.

In a TV advertisement that’s been showing recently, the Seattle Seahawks’ running back is searching for a new touchdown dance.

The unintended punch line is obvious. Does Alexander really need a touchdown dance?

Five weeks have passed since Alexander last got into the end zone. The occurrence that used to be so common — in 2005, Alexander created different celebrations for nearly every one of his NFL-record 28 touchdowns — is no longer a part of the Sunday routine.

“It’s definitely a weird feeling,” Alexander said of not scoring a touchdown since the third quarter of a Sept. 16 loss to Arizona. “But at the end of the day, it’s still football. We’ve been through situations like this before; it’s just been a long time. … We fought our way out of it then, and that’s what we’re going to do now.”

Until last month, Alexander had never played in more than two consecutive games without scoring a touchdown. Between the time when he took over as full-time starter in Week 4 of the 2001 season, and the end of 2006, Alexander had played back-to-back games without scoring a touchdown only twice.

This year, Alexander has gone back-to-back … to back … to back … to back. Five consecutive games — not to mention 21 quarters and 318 minutes of game time — have been played without the league’s former record holder hitting paydirt. His two touchdowns of the season came in Weeks 1 and 2, and Alexander hasn’t scored again.

Alexander used to be the go-to guy in the red zone, but he hasn’t gotten all that many opportunities as of late.

The Seahawks have taken 47 snaps inside their opponents’ 20-yard line this season, but Alexander has touched the ball just 14 times. Since Week 3, Seattle has taken 14 snaps inside the 10 and thrown 10 passes. Alexander has gotten the ball just three times during that span.

Against St. Louis 12 days ago, Alexander didn’t get a single touch on Seattle’s five snaps inside the 10. He was taken out in favor of backup Maurice Morris when the Seahawks were at the Rams’ 5, and one play later coach Mike Holmgren opted to call a pass play from the 1.

Asked Wednesday whether he has less confidence in Alexander near the goal line, Holmgren refuted that his play-calling has been affected by the running back’s lack of success.

“We’ve just got to get running better, and then his (touchdown) numbers should improve,” Holmgren said. “It’s not a confidence thing at all. It’s how I want to kind of attack a certain team the first couple of times we get down (near the end zone).”

Holmgren added that he rarely chooses a play based on trying to single out a player to score.

“I’m not really thinking about the pass or the run; I’m thinking about a play that will score,” he said of calling plays near the opponents’ end zone. “I’m not thinking about Shaun or Matt (Hasselbeck), or (Bobby) Engram or (Deion) Branch. I’m just thinking about: first time down there, this is what I’m going to do when we get there. That I have mapped out beforehand.”

Alexander, who has always maintained that scoring touchdowns are more important to him than any yardage statistics, appeared to be frustrated when he wasn’t used in the red zone against St. Louis. He said on Thursday that his frustration is more about the overall offensive struggles than any personal goals.

“Whenever we don’t score touchdowns, I’m always upset,” he said. “So it doesn’t really matter to me (who’s getting into the end zone). As long as we score touchdowns, I’m happy.”

Alexander wants badly to get out of his funk, both in terms of running the football and getting into the end zone. But his long scoring drought doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s got a growing list of touchdown dances ready to unveil.

He’s been out of the end zone so long that he won’t feel the need to gloat.

“When it’s jelling, everything everybody says makes sense. When it’s not, everybody just keeps their mouths shut and plays,” Alexander said. “That’s what I’ve been doing. We’re all just trying to find a way to get it back on track. And we will. We’ve been working really hard.”

Notes: The Seahawks continued to tinker with their offensive line at practice, working Floyd Womack in with starting guards Rob Sims and Chris Gray for the second day in a row. Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell said that the perfect scenario would be for the same starters to stay together and keep jelling. “The biggest plus is those five have stayed together since the first day of training camp, and last year they weren’t,” Haskell said. “… You always want to keep it together.” … Alexander said that he will get his wrist tested again on Monday, and until then he will continue to wear the brace on his wrist.

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