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Wild card at stake for road-weary Seattle

Seahawks must beat Erickson's 49ers in regular-season finale

SEATTLE Ñ For the first time since 1999, the Seattle Seahawks have the NFL playoffs on their mind entering the final week of the schedule.

Seattle (9-6) must win Saturday at San Francisco to have a shot at a wild-card berth.

'We're not going to lose,' Seattle coach Mike Holmgren says. 'It's sudden death, and we need to do it.'

But don't you think San Francisco coach Dennis Erickson would love to eliminate the Seahawks and frustrate owner Paul Allen and President Bob Whitsitt, who unceremoniously dumped him after three seasons as Seattle coach in 1998?

Seattle beat San Francisco 20-19 in a down-to-the-wire game Oct. 12. The 49ers (7-8) beat Philadelphia in overtime on Sunday and can equal Erickson's best single-season NFL record with a win over the Seahawks.

The key for Seattle? 'Us not turning the ball over and making big plays,' running back Shaun Alexander says.

The Seahawks got past the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, beating them for the second time this season. Seattle won 28-10 after demolishing the Cardinals 38-0 on the road Sept. 14. Arizona (3-12) has the NFC's worst record.

For the first time, the Seahawks finished the home schedule an unbeaten 8-0, but they have been a woeful 1-6 in away games.

Going unbeaten at home has certainly delighted Holmgren. Going back to last year, the team has won 10 in a row at Seahawks Stadium.

'The folks who used to throw things at me gave me high-fives (Sunday),' he says.

In 1999, Holmgren's first year, Seattle won the AFC West for the team's first playoff appearance in 12 seasons.

'We'd like to get as many people excited about football up here as possible,' he says. 'We're in the process of building a football team and a fan base. I'm happy for the city and happy for the fans. I wish we could have done (more) on the road. But we can do it next weekend.'

The Seahawks scored touchdowns on three of their first four drives. The defense Ñ coordinated by former Philadelphia Eagles coach Ray Rhodes Ñ shined again. It flattened Arizona quarterback Josh McCown with eight sacks, giving the Seahawks 38 this season.

Seattle's big priority this week is to get healthy. Safety Reggie Tongue (hamstring) and linebacker Chad Brown (flu-like symptoms) sat out Sunday. Holmgren says several players suffered injuries against Arizona, notably receiver Darrell Jackson (ankle), cornerback Shawn Springs (muscle spasms), returner/running back Maurice Morris (muscle spasms) and QB Matt Hasselbeck (ankle), who also has a sore shoulder and flu-like symptoms.

Contact Jason Vondersmith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .