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Seattle Seahawks' Surprise Sets Up Date With Super Bowl Champs

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 02:  Running back Justin Forsett #20 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes with the ball against the St. Louis Rams during their game at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Chad KlassenCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

The Seahawks are actually in the playoffs.
 
In a rare primetime showing under the lights, they stepped up big to beat St. Louis, 16-6, capturing their first NFC West title since 2007 to set up a wild-card showdown with the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on Saturday at Qwest Field. 
 
Seattle was playing their worst football entering the winner-take-all NFC West showdown, losers of seven of their last nine games and there were no signs of life.
 
Not to mention, when you heard the Hawks were moving forward with plans to start to their lethargic and unproven backup, Charlie Whitehurst, it didn't seem to inspire much hope—even against St. Louis.
 
But apparently, the heart is beating.
 
Seattle came out flying and proved to many in Seahawk Nation—and maybe a small few across the league—that they're full credit for this division title (despite the 7-9 record) with their best performance in the biggest game of the year.
 
It may not have been pretty, but the squad played a hard-nosed game on both sides of the ball and earned their spot in the playoffs.
 
Whitehurst, in particular, played well under the pressure from the first snap and finally showed signs of the potential that Seattle's apparently seen in him since the trade from San Diego.

The 2006 third-round pick put together an inspiring opening drive, hitting on a 61-yarder downfield before finding Mike Williams for the first score.
 
The four-yard strike, on which Whitehurst rolled to his right and made an athletic play to find Williams on the other side, inspired some confidence on the Seahawks sideline and Qwest Field. The crowd of 67,000-plus fan had plenty to cheer about early and, as per usual, affected the outcome of the game.
 
The deafening noise throughout threw off the Rams' rookie Sam Bradford, who didn't seem to handle the atmosphere nor the moment very well. While the defense certainly did its job in holding the Seahawks to 16 points, the St. Louis offense crumbled.
 
Most disappointing for the Rams was their lack of running game, which was their bread and butter in 2010. Steven Jackson, who had averaged 21 carries and nearly 80 yards a game, wasn't given the opportunity to shine with only 11 touches for 45 yards on the ground.
 
And in the absence of a ground attack, Bradford struggled the find his way, airing it out only once on the night. The young pivot wasn't given much helped from his receivers, who dropped more than a few passes at key moments.
 
But give credit to Seattle's 30th-ranked defense, which had coughed up 380 yards per game and over 34 points in the nine defeats this season. The unit was able to get pressure on Bradford and force him into some arrant throws. That pass rush also helped the Seahawks finally stopped the run against Jackson, which arguably was their most important mission.   
 
Altogether, it was the perfect recipe for a Seahawks win and the division. With Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints coming to town for Saturday afternoon's affair, it's a defensive performance they'll need to keep it close.
 
And while they may not knock off the defending champs next week, Seattle at least ended the regular season with a bang and proved their worth as the 2010 NFC West champions. 

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