Seattle (3-0) at Chicago (3-0)

Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 8:15 pm EDT Sun Oct 1, 2006
  • TV: NBC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Seattle Seahawks unveiled a new four-wide receiver set last week. The new passing scheme may have been inserted just in time with reigning NFL MVP Shaun Alexander slowed by a foot injury.

In a matchup of two of the NFC’s three unbeaten teams, the Seahawks are expected to be without Alexander for the first time this decade when they meet the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday night.

A bone scan on Monday revealed a cracked bone in Alexander’s left foot, but the 2005 rushing champion asked for another round of CT scans because he said he felt “great” upon arriving at team headquarters Wednesday.

Alexander said those tests showed the same crack in the fourth metatarsal that was there on Monday. That means he remains out indefinitely, likely to miss several weeks.

“Unless it’s the Super Bowl, I don’t think that Mike would even let me think about playing,” Alexander said of coach Mike Holmgren.

Alexander has appeared in all 104 of Seattle’s games, including five playoff contests, since the team selected him in the first round of the 2000 draft. This week will end his run of 49 consecutive starts.

Alexander, though, is listed as doubtful on the injury report.

“A lot of swelling is gone, a lot of blood from the bone (is gone), but there is still a crack,” he said.

The Seahawks (3-0) originally thought Alexander broke his foot in their 42-30 win over the New York Giants last Sunday. He played only three quarters, gaining 47 yards on 20 carries and scoring on a two-yard run in the first quarter.

He ran for 1,880 yards and a league-record 27 rushing touchdowns last season, but has just 187 yards this season while averaging 2.9 per carry. He has gained fewer than 100 yards in each of Seattle’s three games, his first such streak in two years.

Maurice Morris, who rushed 15 times for 18 yards against the Giants, will make his fourth career start on Sunday to replace Alexander.

The defending NFC champion Seahawks proved in their win over New York they can still be effective offensively without a strong running game.

Matt Hasselbeck threw a franchise record-tying five touchdown passes, finishing 24-of-33 for 227 yards while not getting sacked for the first time this season.

Former Patriots wideout and Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch made his Seattle debut against the Giants, joining a talented receiving corps that includes Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram.

After scoring a combined 30 points in their first two games, the Seahawks jumped to a 35-3 halftime lead over New York, featuring a four-wide receiver formation that opened up the passing game.

“I hope we continue to put that threat on guys,” said Branch, who caught two passes for 23 yards and ran a reverse eight yards. “It’s not the same for me now. I don’t have to worry about going into games getting double-teamed any more. That’s out of the picture.”

Hasselbeck had just one touchdown and two interceptions through the first two games, and welcomed the offensive makeover.

“If you look at the four wide receivers that we put on the field today, we have a mismatch somewhere, sometimes everywhere,” Hasselbeck said. “That’s an exciting thing.”

The Bears (3-0) have yet to allow a passing touchdown all season, and have yielded just one touchdown overall. They have allowed 23 points through three games and lead the NFC in total defense, giving up 266.0 yards per contest.

While Seattle had the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL last season, averaging 28.3 points, Chicago boasted a defense that allowed a league-low 12.6 points per game. That unit, which returns five Pro Bowlers, led the Bears to their first division title since 2001.

“For us to take another step, we have to be able to beat the best,” Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. “It’s another chance for us to see exactly what we have in front of a national audience and in front of a home crowd. We wanted to be 3-0, in this position, against Seattle.”

The Bears notched their best start since 1991—when they won their first four games—with a 19-16 comeback victory over Minnesota last Sunday.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris forced a fumble with 3 1/2 minutes left, setting up Rex Grossman’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Rashied Davis right after the two-minute warning.

“We faced some adversity, but I think it says a lot about our offense and defense,” said Grossman, who was 23-of-41 for 278 yards with two interceptions.

After missing most of the past two seasons because of injuries, Grossman has thrown for 829 yards and six touchdowns to help the Bears average 26.3 points, compared to 16.3 last season.

“I have total confidence in what he can do out there,” said Muhsin Muhammad, second in the NFC with 279 receiving yards. “I know what kinds of decisions he makes. He might make some bad ones, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to lose confidence in him. For the most part, he shows a lot of confidence in himself and plays like a warrior out there.”

The Bears are 4-1 at Soldier Field under Grossman, who threw for career highs of 289 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-7 home win over Detroit in Week 2.

Chicago is 8-1 at home since the start of last season, allowing 44 points in those wins.

The Seahawks have won six of seven over the Bears, but have only faced them twice since 1990.

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