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Originally published Monday, September 22, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Back in rush-hour traffic

Led by Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett, Seahawks' rejuvenated running game plows through Rams.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seahawks had the ball on the 4-yard line in the second quarter, a situation where coach Mike Holmgren usually would call for a pass, perhaps a draw if he was feeling especially frisky.

Instead, Seattle's coach announced his intention by putting Sean Locklear as the third tight end, a 308-pound blinking neon sign that Seattle intended to run the ball to whichever side Locklear lined up on.

And that's just what Seattle did, handing it to T.J. Duckett who pushed 4 yards into the end zone with all the speed and subtlety of a dump truck.

"He said to the guys up front, 'We're going to pound this in,' " Hasselbeck said.

The play epitomized Seattle's offensive game plan against St. Louis, a ground-bound approach in which Julius Jones gained 140 yards and scored on 29-yard run and Duckett rushed for 79 yards and scored twice.

It was the kind of rushing performance not seen in Seattle since the Super Bowl season. The Seahawks wanted to run the ball, the opponent knew they wanted to run it and still the Seahawks were able to run all the way to 245 yards on the ground, their highest total in any game since Oct. 16, 2005.

"It all comes down to the offensive line," Duckett said. "We go as far as they go, and they make the difference. They came out and played unbelievable today."

Seattle ran the ball 46 times against St. Louis and passed only 20. That's Seattle's fewest pass attempts in any game since 2005. That's not how Holmgren would prefer to call a game, but preferences go out the window because of injuries that left the Seahawks starting receivers Billy McMullen and Keary Colbert, two players who weren't with the team two weeks ago.

"We had to play the game a certain way," Holmgren said.

That was keeping the ball out of the air and moving it on the ground, handing it over to a ground game that Seattle spent millions rebuilding in the offseason, signing Jones and Duckett in free agency, adding guard Mike Wahle and hiring a new offensive-line coach in Mike Solari.

"We are just starting to come together," Jones said.

At one point in the fourth quarter, Seattle ran the ball eight consecutive times. Those eight plays gained 60 yards and the drive ended in Duckett's 1-yard touchdown run.

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Jones gained more than 100 yards for the second consecutive week.

"I don't know if you could ask for anything more," Holmgren said. "He has a knack for spinning and gaining extra yards after the initial hit."

That's something that hasn't been said too often about Seattle running backs recently. But the direction of the Seahawks' running game is changing. More specifically, it's oriented north and south. Keep it moving straight ahead toward the end zone, not veering toward the sideline to look for a bigger hole.

The coach tells Hasselbeck to remind them to get going up the field, and Hasselbeck translates it into localized terms.

"We want to be on the I-405 or the I-5," Hasselbeck said. "No 520. No I-90. Always north-south."

Seattle plowed straight ahead Sunday, dragging the Rams defense along for the ride.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Jones' rush hour in Seattle
Julius Jones has rushed for more than 100 yards in all four of the games he played at Qwest Field, including a playoff game with Dallas in January 2007:
Location Yards/game Yards/carry Games TDs
at Qwest Field 144.3 5.8 4 5
All other stadiums 61.8 3.8 54 15

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