SEATTLE (Jan. 14, 2006) -- His head pounding and his day over, Shaun Alexander walked off the field at halftime and flashed the "OK" sign.
He was right.
"I told Matt at halftime that he had to shoulder the load," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We always put a lot on his shoulders, but I told him that now he had to do a little bit more."
Holmgren said he was optimistic Alexander will be able to play. Alexander, injured in the first 10 minutes, did not talk to reporters.
The victory ended the longest run without a postseason victory by any NFL team -- Seattle had been 0-6 since its last playoff triumph on Dec. 22, 1984. The contest next week will be the second title game in its 30-year franchise history -- the Seahawks played for the AFC championship after the 1983 season.
"I don't know if it was me. Those other guys stepped up," Hasselbeck said. "It was really a team win today."
Alexander, who scored an NFL-record 28 touchdowns this season and led the league with 1,880 yards rushing, lost a fumble without being hit at the Washington 11 on Seattle's opening drive. He was then hurt with 5:28 left in the first quarter and did not return.
Without Alexander, this became Hasselbeck's game.
Not only did he complete 16 of 26 passes for 215 yards and a 29-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson, but he scrambled around the right side for a 6-yard TD in the third quarter.
Indeed, Hasselbeck's work helped overcome three costly turnovers -- one that kept Seattle from scoring in the first period, a second that led to a Washington field goal and a third in the fourth quarter that the Redskins squandered.
Jackson had nine receptions for 143 yards despite playing with a bad back.
"That's my responsibility," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said. "Obviously we wanted to be much more productive than what we were in the playoffs. We have to look to see how we can do a better job offensively."
Washington's last chance ended in the final minute when Mark Brunell's desperation fourth-down pass for Santana Moss was batted down by safety Michael Boulware in the end zone.
"If he's not playing at a Pro Bowl level, their offense struggles," Seattle defensive end Bryce Fisher said of Portis, who gained 41 yards on 17 carries.
That cut the Seattle lead to a touchdown only 3:01 into the final quarter. Then Josh Scobee fumbled the kickoff and kicker John Hall recovered, but Hall missed a 36-yard field-goal attempt that would have cut it to four.
Brown clinched it with a 31-yard field goal with 2:54 left.
Said Hasselbeck: "We've got a great feeling in our locker room right now because we did come together. We overcame adversity."
Seattle then went 81 yards on 10 plays on its first possession of the second half to make it 14-3 with Hasselbeck scrambling in for the touchdown.
Jackson's 143 yards receiving was a postseason record for the Seahawks.
Washington guard Ray Brown, at 43 the oldest lineman in modern NFL history, played his final game after 20 seasons.
Brown, wide receiver Taylor Jacobs and cornerback Shawn Springs all had to leave the game temporarily for Washington.
Seattle fullback Mack Strong's 32-yard run in the fourth quarter, which helped set up the clinching field goal, was the longest in his 13-season NFL career.
The Associated Press News Service
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