Hawks building division dominance
Little did Jimmy Williams know that his simple gesture could be so prophetic. It came as the Seahawks were wrapping up a road win over the...
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — Little did Jimmy Williams know that his simple gesture could be so prophetic.
It came as the Seahawks were wrapping up a road win over the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 9, 2005. Williams, all in good fun as is his nature, made his fingers into a letter W and held them up for the sullen Rams fans behind the Seahawks bench to see.
Making the W is a popular way to express pride for the West Coast. In the Seahawks' case, it means ownership of the NFC's West Division.
The two-time defending West champions blew through the division with a perfect 6-0 mark in 2005, and enter this season as not only the team to beat in the division but in the NFC as a whole.
Now that's representing the West. And the Seahawks hope to continue their division dominance this season, beginning with the NFC West opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Qwest Field.
Arizona @ Seahawks, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13
Sure, the Seahawks won their first game of the season. But they know that the Cardinals are improved, the Rams appear to have a better defense and the 49ers can stay close in games.
Since moving to the NFC West in 2002, the Seahawks have gone 16-8 against their division rivals: San Francisco, St. Louis and Arizona.
2005 | 6-0
Seahawks sweep, with biggest division win at St. Louis, 37-31, in Week 5.
2004 | 3-3
Week 5 collapse at Qwest against St. Louis was in their heads for the rest of season.
2003 | 5-1
One-point home wins over San Francisco and St. Louis helped Hawks into postseason.
2002 | 2-4
The 49ers were the class of the division in Seahawks' first year in NFC West.
The Seahawks, then, can't approach the NFL's least competitive division last season with any kind of overconfidence or swagger.
"Fear is always healthy. That's why I think last week's game was good for us," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. "We've been better the last few years, our record's better, but you can't ever think you've arrived. You have to always battle. I want them to battle like they are the underdog all the time."
"You play harder. You overachieve," Holmgren continued. "So, yeah, we've done OK. But no one is going to hand you anything ... They are going to come after you because you've won the division."
But the dominance and respect has been established. The Seahawks are almost everyone's pick to three-peat in the division. Winning the West by seven games will do that. So will playing in the Super Bowl.
"Everybody feels like they can establish themselves as a top-notch team if they best the team that was in the Super Bowl last year," Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner said. "Every time Seattle goes out on the field, the team across from them is saying, 'Hey, if we can beat Seattle we can establish ourselves as this. If we can beat Seattle this is going to help put us on the map.' "
Seattle's ascension to the top of the NFC West began, in earnest, with that win over the Rams last October. It rid them of the notion that the Rams, who defeated Seattle three times in 2004 including the playoffs, had their number.
One could argue, though, that dominance began with the arrival of team president and general manager Tim Ruskell, who since coming to Seattle has made good on his commitment to do whatever he can to make the team better.
Maybe even better in 2006 than in 2005.
Case in point: The acquisition of impact linebacker Julian Peterson in the offseason, which even early in the season looks like a stroke of genius, and the trade for former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch and signing of kickoff returner Willie Ponder in the past two weeks.
Ponder averaged 29.3 yards on returns last week. And signing wide receiver Nate Burleson in the offseason could also pay dividends.
"If [Holmgren] sees something they want, they get it," Cardinals coach Dennis Green told the Arizona Republic. "They've added two receivers to a core that went to the Super Bowl. They're both very fast guys. They're always looking to make themselves better, and they made that kind of commitment."
Warner remembers when he was with the Rams several years ago, and the Seahawks weren't such a formidable adversary.
vs. Arizona: Since Qwest debut in 2002, only other Seahawks loss to Cards was in October 2004.
San Francisco: No wins for the 49ers over Seahawks since 2002.
St. Louis: Still the Seahawks' biggest rival in the division.
"You thought to yourself, 'This is one we can get when we play against Seattle,' but then every year you had to look at them a little bit differently, like now they're presenting a few more problems," Warner said. "Now they're on the cusp of being one of those elite teams. Now they're an elite team. You saw the progression of what they have become over the years. Now it's come to the point, especially when you go up to their place, how tough they are to beat."
That's the advantage the Seahawks hope to maintain in 2006. To do so, they need to let the rest of the division know who is still calling the shots in the West.
"Very important," cornerback Marcus Trufant said. "That's how we have to be every week."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or email@example.com
|The Seahawks are 16-8 against division rivals San Francisco, St. Louis and Arizona since joining the NFC West in 2002.|
|Dec. 11, 2005||vs. San Francisco||Seahawks, 41-3|
|Nov. 20, 2005||at San Francisco||Seahawks, 27-25|
|Nov. 13, 2005||vs. St. Louis||Seahawks, 31-16|
|Nov. 6, 2005||at Arizona||Seahawks, 33-19|
|Oct. 9, 2005||at St. Louis||Seahawks, 37-31|
|Sept. 25, 2005||vs. Arizona||Seahawks, 37-12|
|Dec. 26, 2004||vs. Arizona||Seahawks, 24-21|
|Nov. 14, 2004||at St. Louis||Rams, 23-12|
|Nov. 7, 2004||at San Francisco||Seahawks, 42-27|
|Oct. 24, 2004||at Arizona||Cardinals, 25-17|
|Oct. 10, 2004||vs. St. Louis||Rams, 33-27|
|Sept. 26, 2004||vs. San Francisco||Seahawks, 34-0|
|Dec. 27, 2003||at San Francisco||Seahawks, 24-17|
|Dec. 21, 2003||vs. Arizona||Seahawks, 28-10|
|Dec. 14, 2003||at St. Louis||Rams, 27-22|
|Oct. 12, 2003||vs. San Francisco||Seahawks, 20-19|
|Sept. 21, 2003||vs. St. Louis||Seahawks, 24-23|
|Sept. 14, 2003||at Arizona||Seahawks, 38-0|
|Dec. 22, 2002||vs. St. Louis||Seahawks, 30-10|
|Dec. 1, 2002||at San Francisco||49ers, 31-24|
|Nov. 10, 2002||at Arizona||Seahawks, 27-6|
|Oct. 20, 2002||at St. Louis||Rams, 37-20|
|Oct. 14, 2002||vs. San Francisco||49ers, 28-21|
|Sept. 15, 2002||vs. Arizona||Cardinals, 24-13|
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.