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Ho-ho-home field: Beating Colts assures best NFC record
Seattle Times staff reporter
The rest of the NFC playoff teams had better plan for a long trip if they hope to get to Super Bowl XL. Like it or not, the road to Detroit will run through Seattle.
It's not exactly a direct route from some places. And the opponents will find that getting to Seattle takes awhile.
For their part, the Seahawks took the most direct route to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 28-13 Saturday at Qwest Field. The win assures the Seahawks (13-2) of the best record and top playoff seed in the NFC with still one more regular-season game to play.
It gave the Seahawks 13 wins for the first time in the 30-year history of the franchise — extending their winning streak to 11 games. They finished undefeated at home (8-0) for the second time in the past three seasons, set a club record with 55 touchdowns this season and became the most successful NFC team since the start of the 2003 season, with an overall record of 32-15.
All of that, plus a win over the team they could face in the Super Bowl if they can get that far, was cause for players to emerge from the locker room after the game and high-five with some of the fans who stuck around to celebrate.
"Other than my family being here for Christmas, this is about as good as it can get," said defensive end Grant Wistrom, one of the last players to return to the locker room after thanking the fans. "Home-field advantage, beating these guys [the AFC-best Colts], hopefully we'll face them again. They've got a good shot at getting there and hopefully we do, too. We'll probably have to face them full force at some point."
So now what? The playoffs loom but are still three weeks away for Seattle. The Seahawks travel to Green Bay for their regular-season finale Jan. 1, then get a bye for the postseason wild-card round.
• 13 wins, most in a season (previous was 12 in 1984)
• 11 wins, most consecutive wins, (previous was 8 in 1984)
• 55 touchdowns, most in a season (previous was 51 in 1984)
• 2nd all-time attendance at Qwest Field with 67,855 (No. 1 is 68,093, Monday Night Football, vs. Dallas, Dec. 6, 2004)
On sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 9, for the NFC Divisional Playoff game to be played Jan. 14 or Jan. 15 at time to be determined. Can be purchased only by calling Ticketmaster (206-622-HAWK) at www.seahawks.com. A limit of four tickets per person, may only be purchased by credit card.
Logic might dictate coach Mike Holmgren would rest as many front-liners as he can. The Seahawks have nothing more to play for as far as playoff positioning and could use an extra week for some players to nurse injuries.
Holmgren might play it the way the Colts did Saturday. Quarterback Peyton Manning was gone after the first quarter, and running back Edgerrin James left after two. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison didn't even play and several top Colts defenders missed the game. But Holmgren said he had to confer with his coaching staff in the coming days before making personnel decisions.
"Now, we can take a little bit of a breath and get ready for the playoffs," Holmgren said.
To do so, the Seahawks needed to win. And they were well on their way after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive — the first of three TDs for Shaun Alexander. Seattle followed that by blocking the Colts' field-goal attempt, and turning that into a second touchdown drive, this one ending in a 15-yard strike from Matt Hasselbeck to tight end Jerramy Stevens.
Stevens established a single-season yardage mark among Seahawks tight ends after gaining 39 yards. He now has 554, and needs two catches next week to pass Itula Mili for the most single-season receptions for a tight end in franchise history, 46.
"We're going to try not to rest on our laurels," Stevens said. "We've got work to do, but we know we can do it. We've been talented in the past and should have gotten it done, but this year is different and we feel it."
Safety Michael Boulware blocked the field goal, the first time he has blocked a kick since he started playing football.
"I was able to lay out, and the ball just hit my hands," Boulware said. "I kind of closed my eyes, and it was there."
The Seahawks took a 28-6 lead in dramatic fashion. With 3:58 left in the game, Alexander came in from off the bench to the delight of the fans, who were aware that the next touchdown would give Alexander 27 on the season and a tie for the NFL single-season record.
Alexander scored from a yard out, sealing the victory.
Defensively, the Seahawks overcame the Colts' ability to complete passes for large gains in the middle of the field and shut down the running game, holding Indianapolis to 43 rushing yards.
It was the lowest total the Seahawks' defense has allowed all season.
"They're a good team," Seahawks cornerback Jimmy Williams said after the Colts' quarterbacks passed for 353 yards. "Sometimes they got us, and sometimes we got them. There's holes in every coverage."
After the game, there was only accomplishment and Christmas to think about.
Josť Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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