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Originally published September 22, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 22, 2008 at 5:16 PM

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Jerry Brewer

Feel-good performance comes at perfect time

Before the Seahawks turned back into the Seahawks, Bobby Engram approached Deon Grant with some motivational words. "A lot of people are...

Seattle Times staff columnist

Before the Seahawks turned back into the Seahawks, Bobby Engram approached Deon Grant with some motivational words.

"A lot of people are putting us in the same category as the Rams," the injured Engram told the free safety. "We may be 0-2 like them, but we're not them. We're headed in a different direction. We're on the up."

Grant nodded. He hadn't thought of this game quite like that. No way could the Seahawks be peers of the St. Louis Rams, the worst team in the NFL. Grant grew agitated. He knew his team had to prove it.

The Seahawks did so Sunday with a punishing 37-13 victory over a team in need of destruction. They rediscovered themselves against a team that is forever lost. They got right against a team that can do no right.

We'll bypass effusive praise. This was a game in which every paragraph should include a caveat: But they played the Rams. Nevertheless, considering the angst of the previous two weeks, you can't be too snobby to appreciate an easy win, either.

It's good to know the Seahawks can still dominate. They ran through a defense like they hadn't in three years. With Julius Jones running for a no-nonsense 140 yards, following his blockers until the time came to drag a few defenders, Seattle amassed 245 rushing yards, their highest total since gaining 320 against Houston during the 2005 season.

Instead of four-wideout sets, you saw formations with two tight ends. You saw quarterback Matt Hasselbeck perfecting his bowling-ball blocking technique. You saw the offensive line at its finest, T.J. Duckett at his toughest, and a defense enjoying play-calling that kept it fresh.

The Seahawks held the ball 60 percent of the time, and as a result, the defense thrived, too. The game seemed out of the Rams' reach right after linebacker Julian Peterson created triple-chaos for quarterback Marc Bulger. Peterson sacked Bulger, stripped the football and recovered the fumble all by himself. If he had picked up the ball and rumbled into the end zone, it would've been the perfect defensive play.

"That was the only thing I was missing," Peterson joked.

Six plays after Peterson's feat, Michael Bumpus dived for a touchdown reception, the Seahawks' lead was 10-0, and the Rams were done. Never mind the Seahawks had blown a 14-0 advantage the previous week. The Rams were done.

It's saying something when a team can lose 37-13 and show improvement. St. Louis ran its first red-zone play of the year Sunday, which should rate a 10 on their yippee-o-meter. Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom has vowed to make changes soon if his team doesn't show dramatic improvement. After being outscored 116-29 in their first three games, it's apparent the Rams aren't NFL material.

That is not the Seahawks' problem, however. This feel-good performance couldn't have come at a better time. Now, they have a bye week to heal. And for the next two weeks, they don't have to listen to talk of their demise. They needed the morale boost more than they want to admit.

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"I don't want to overemphasize it," safety Brian Russell said. "We were just trying to stay the course. We didn't panic. But it makes a big, big difference winning this game in this way. Instead of being down, we can correct our mistakes, get healthier and push forward."

The next time we see Seattle, Engram and Deion Branch are expected to play. The cursed receivers will get back their starting wideouts. And they'll have to get in game shape fast. The Hawks are about to embark on a season-defining stretch.

Four of the next five games are against playoff-quality teams. The weak foe in the bunch: San Francisco, which already has beaten Seattle. We're about to discover what kind of team this will be. Until then, we can bask in what they are not.

The Rams.

Hallelujah.

"We want to win," guard Floyd Womack said. "Nobody wants to be 0-2, and we definitely didn't want to be 0-3. We had that fire in us to go out and play."

That edge had been lacking. The Seahawks were playing like a confused team, and although injuries served as the primary factor, their problems were deeper. The urgency was missing. The confidence was shot. They were turning simple plays into adventures.

Grant, an emotional barometer for this team, wasn't playing with his usual passion. He returned to form Sunday, dancing, hitting, breaking up passes and dancing some more. Not surprisingly, the Seahawks looked reinvigorated.

"I wasn't playing with my normal energy," Grant admitted. "Not anymore. That's the end of all that."

If the Seahawks build on this effort, it'll be the end of misfortune, too. "We wanted to show you guys who we really are in this game," Grant said.

They distanced themselves from the hapless Rams. It's progress.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or jbrewer@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports. Also check out Jerry's Extra Points blog, where he talks with readers about his columns.
jbrewer@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2277

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