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After stumbling for a few weeks, the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks put together their most complete victory of the season their last time out.
The Seahawks and Bears each look to carry some momentum from those victories when they meet Sunday at Qwest Field in a matchup between the last two NFC champions.
Following a stretch when it lost three of four, Seattle (5-4) defeated San Francisco 24-0 on Monday night in dominating fashion.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns for the Seahawks and the defense held the 49ers to just 173 yards and only six first downs, tying the team record, set against San Diego in 1987.
“We should be successful like this all the time,” linebacker Julian Peterson said. “This shows how dominant we can be if everyone plays their positions and are in the right place.”
Backup running back Maurice Morris rushed for 87 yards on 28 attempts in his first start of the season for Shaun Alexander, who was out with an accumulation of injuries. Alexander has been mostly ineffective lately, rushing for just 139 yards on 58 carries in his last four games, and may miss this game.
With last Sunday’s victory, Seattle improved to 3-1 in the NFC West and maintained its one-game division lead over second-place Arizona.
The Seahawks, who have won the last three NFC West titles, marched to a 13-3 finish in 2005, advancing to the franchise’s first Super Bowl before losing to Pittsburgh 21-10.
Last season, Chicago (4-5) went 13-3 in the regular season before losing to Indianapolis 29-17 in the Super Bowl.
En route to the Super Bowl, the Bears defeated the Seahawks 37-6 at home on Oct. 1 and beat them 27-24 in overtime in a divisional playoff game at Soldier Field.
Hasselbeck, who has thrown for 1,153 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions in his last four games, threw for 391 yards, one TD and three picks in the two games against the Bears last season.
That was a year ago, though, and much of this season has been a struggle for Chicago.
The Bears’ once-vaunted defense is ranked 21st in the league, and Grossman, who led the Super Bowl run, was benched after throwing six interceptions and only one touchdown pass in Chicago’s first three games.
Grossman got another opportunity last Sunday against Oakland as he replaced an injured Brian Griese, and threw a 59-yard pass to Bernard Berrian for the go-ahead score with 3:11 remaining, leading the Bears to a 17-6 victory.
Grossman finished 7-for-14 for 142 yards and a touchdown, and most importantly, had no turnovers.
“It was unbelievable, something you can’t describe to someone who hasn’t been in that position,” Grossman said. “It’s a great feeling to come in and be able to pull one out.
Bears coach Lovie Smith is giving Grossman another chance, naming him the starter on Wednesday.
“We’re going to go with who gives us the best opportunity to win,” Smith said.
Grossman was 38-for-69 for 514 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the two games against Seattle last season, while Berrian had eight receptions for 213 yards and two TDs in those games.
Although Chicago won its first game after the bye, it still has plenty more to do to make it back to the playoffs.
Cedric Benson carried 29 times but managed just 76 yards against the league’s fourth-worst rushing defense last week. He has rushed for 542 yards on 178 attempts for a paltry 3.0-yard average.
“We’re not pleased with our running game,” Smith said.
Seattle has the NFL’s 10th-best rushing defense (99.4 yards per game), and has allowed an average of just 65.3 yards on the ground in its last three contests. The Seahawks have given up just two rushing touchdowns in five games at home, where they have won four of those contests.
Seattle has won 30 of 37 home games since 2003, and in the only meeting between these teams at Qwest Field on Oct. 19, 2003, the Seahawks won 24-17.