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The Seahawks look to avoid a third straight loss when they host the winless Rams in a divisional matchup on Sunday.
Seattle (3-3) lost 28-17 at home to previously winless New Orleans last Sunday, a week after falling 21-0 at Pittsburgh. The Seahawks, who last lost three in a row in December, can’t afford falling to another winless team in St. Louis (0-6), which looks to avoid opening with seven straight losses for the first time in franchise history.
“Our record is what it is,” said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, whose team tries to win its fifth in a row over the Rams. “There are logical reasons, honest reasons why we’ve lost games. There’s only one thing to do: Roll up your sleeves and work hard.”
Despite their recent struggles, the Seahawks are tied with Arizona for the lead in a division where the four teams have combined to lose 12 consecutive games and none of them has a winning record.
“We’ve got a lot we can correct, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said.
Seattle can start by getting running back Shaun Alexander on track. The former Pro Bowler rushed for a total of 60 yards on 25 carries in his last two games after gaining 353 in his first four games. It’s his lowest two-game production since November 2002 when he gained 60 yards against Arizona and Denver.
Alexander has just two TDs - none in the last four games - two years after setting what was then a league record with 28 touchdowns.
“I don’t get into excuses,” Alexander told the team’s official Web site. “I can’t play that game because then we’ll find one for everything. We’ve just got to play hard and we’ll figure it out.”
Alexander could break out versus a Rams club which has the NFC’s worst run defense, allowing 134.5 yards per game. Though he did not play in either matchup with St. Louis last season because of a foot injury, Alexander has averaged 102.3 yards in nine games against them, including 284 yards and five TDs in two meetings in 2005.
Hasselbeck was 26-for-43 for a season-high 362 yards and two touchdowns last week while trying to lead a comeback against the Saints, but has thrown five interceptions in his last four games.
He has thrown for 827 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions in his last three contests against the Rams.
For this matchup, though, Hasselbeck likely won’t have Deion Branch, who will miss a second straight game with a foot injury, but fellow receiver D.J. Hackett should be available after playing only one game this season due to an ankle problem.
Defensively, the Seahawks lost three-year starting tackle Chuck Darby for the season to a knee injury last week. Seattle has allowed 49 points in its last two games since a 23-3 win at San Francisco on Sept. 30.
St. Louis, which also has been plagued by injuries, lost 22-3 at Baltimore last Sunday and has been outscored 159-73 this season.
“It’s pathetic, and anybody that doesn’t feel so, they’re fooling themselves,” St. Louis tight end Randy McMichael said.
While the Rams have been decimated by injuries to the offensive line and at wide receiver, they are likely to be without star running back Steven Jackson for a third straight game due to a partially torn groin.
Quarterback Marc Bulger, though, is expected to play Sunday after missing the last two games with two broken ribs. He is 4-6 versus the Rams.
“Yeah, I’m playing,” said Bulger, who has two TDs and four interceptions with a 64.9 passer rating. “I’m ready now after standing around for two weeks. They definitely feel a little better, but I haven’t been hit.
“I don’t think we have an option right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s smart, I think I have to.”
That’s because his replacement, Gus Frerotte, threw eight interceptions in the two games he started, including five versus Baltimore.