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Holmgren questions self for close losses

1/11/2005 - Seattle Seahawks

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.