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News » Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2008-12-28

Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2008-12-28

Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2008-12-28
Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has gone back and forth all season long with who he starts at running back.

One game it was Maurice Morris. The next game it was Julius Jones.

But in these final three games of the season, Morris has been the starter, and will be when the Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

With the season over with after they lost to the Cardinals on Nov. 16, Holmgren said his decision to go with Morris is more of a thank you for the loyalty he has shown to Holmgren over the years.

"There are players in this league -- good players -- that never get to play as much as they might because they're with a team that has a Shaun Alexander or Steve Jackson or some guy that's going to get the ball," Holmgren explained. "So those guys, they do all the hard work at practice in preparing the other team. They usually have a role on special teams that might be a little bit different for them, but they are on your roster and they're good athletes so you use them. Mo absolutely fit into that category.

"Then every time you have an injury with the top guy, you put him in. He played well and in a normal world, you just keep playing. But then when the other guy comes back, you sit him down. That was Mo. Oftentimes in this business, that goes on for a while and then someone gets upset. He either pops off or something happens. He never did that. He never ever did that. He just was a true professional."

It's not as if Morris is being handed the job without qualifications. He produced 116 yards last week against New York, his highest rushing total in over two years, and had 29 carries, one shy of his career high.

What this will mean for Morris' career with the Seahawks remains to be seen. He is a free agent this offseason. The Seahawks signed Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett last offseason, plus have rookie Justin Forsett.

Holmgren never fell in love with Jones, especially after he fumbled twice on Thanksgiving Day against his former team. But Holmgren will be gone next year and won't have a say in whether Morris plays or doesn't play.

Morris gets this one last chance, against the Cardinals, to show what he can do.

After that, Holmgren said, "It'll all work itself out."

--The Seattle Seahawks' game against the Arizona Cardinals this week normally would be a meaningless affair given the teams' situations.

The Seahawks are finishing off a 4-11 season that has been plagued by injuries and that is ushering coach Mike Holmgren into retirement.

The Cardinals clinched the NFC West on Dec. 7 and really have had nothing to play for since - other than to stay healthy.

But Holmgren said this game matters simply because it is being played against the team who grabbed the Seahawks' four-year reign of division domination.

It would be easy to assume then, that, given the records of the other three division rivals, the Cardinals will be the team to beat in the future.

Holmgren impressed upon his players that they need to send the message to Arizona that this year was a one-time aberration.

"The players, I really want them to understand why this happened this year, first of all," Holmgren said. "Absolutely understand we could've played better. And then, what are we going to do about it to get back on top? Because if you let a team believe that they're going to take something from you all the time, pretty soon, they do it. That is a message I have touched on, and I'll touch on it again before we play the game."

Holmgren also said this season has been a valuable lesson about never giving up - one that he hopes the players remember as they play under Jim Mora in the future.

Holmgren said in Week 6, when the team was 1-5, he told the players that more bizarre things have happened than for a team like Arizona to fold down the stretch.

He proved prophetic because the Cardinals have lost four of their last five games and conceivably could win the division at 8-8, the worst record of a division winner in NFL history.

Now, the Seahawks find themselves looking back and wondering what might have happened if they had won a few more of their close games.

"Look at the AFC west, San Diego and Denver are playing for the western division title and the possibility is that the winner of that division will be 8-8," Holmgren said. "It's been a screwy year like that around the league. But it is a good lesson. I can still talk to them about that this week and hopefully they'll be reminded of that next year."

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said in an interview with Seattle area reporters on Wednesday that he will play to win this game; if players aren't playing, they will get benched, Whisenhunt said.

But the Cardinals also are playing to avoid injuries, a position the Seahawks found themselves in at the end of last year.

That may give Seattle an edge. So, too, might the motivation of trying to get Holmgren a victory in his final game.

SERIES HISTORY: 20TH meeting. Cardinals lead the series, 10-9, including a 26-20 victory on Nov. 16, when Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the final two minutes, preventing a Seahawks' comeback from a 13-0 deficit.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 28, 2008

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