Holmgren questions self for close losses
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Mike Holmgren isn't going anywhere.
Seattle's coach held a wrap-up news conference Tuesday, where he rejected speculation he might be fired or leave after a frustrating 9-7 season. The Seahawks lost in last weekend's wild-card round to St. Louis.
"I haven't been told I'm not coming back," Holmgren said.
There's also been talk in the Bay Area, where Holmgren grew up, that he might consider going home to coach the San Francisco 49ers. Dennis Erickson was fired earlier this month after a 2-14 season.
"I don't want to coach anyplace else," Holmgren said. "I want to get it done here. I love our team. I love our guys. But to say it didn't cross my mind to ride off into the sunset? I'd by lying."
In his 19 NFL seasons as a head or assistant coach, Holmgren couldn't remember such an unusual season. After a 3-0 start that seemed to validate preseason forecasts of a Super Bowl run, an erratic turn made Holmgren question himself.
"I always said in close games I felt I could make a difference," Holmgren said. "I've had too many close games this year where I didn't make a difference. I have to start with myself."
His low point, he said, came after a 43-39 loss to Dallas on Dec. 6. It was among of a handful of stinging defeats, difficult to accept because the Seahawks blew a 39-29 lead in the final 1:45.
"You can't make a decision there because, really, after a tough loss, you want to jump off a bridge," he said.
Holmgren also expressed frustration with news coverage after Seattle's 28-26 win over Atlanta in the regular-season finale, a victory that secured the third division title in franchise history.
Headlines and broadcasts in the following days focused on Shaun Alexander's claim that he was "stabbed in the back" by Holmgren after coming up one yard short of the NFL rushing title.
"I wanted to see headlines that said, 'Seahawks: Division Champs," the coach said.
Holmgren met briefly Monday with team president Bob Whitsitt to discuss the free-agency period and expects to meet with team owner Paul Allen. The Seahawks have 16 players eligible for unrestricted free agency.
It will be critical to keep the offensive core together because Alexander, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and tackle Walter Jones are free agents, but Holmgren believes the team's young defense will continue to improve.
"I think we're close. I really do," he said.
Holmgren wore his Super Bowl ring from Green Bay's title after the 1996 season, saying he remains committed to winning another championship with the Seahawks.
"As long as I have the fire to do this and as long as the players are listening to me, as long as I'm wanted, I'm going to keep trying," he said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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