Despite concussion, Alexander could play next week

Updated: January 16, 2006, 1:12 AM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- After Shaun Alexander told enough people he felt fine, all eventually became right with the Seattle Seahawks.

Shaun Alexander
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesAlexander went down early for Seattle, but Mike Holmgren is hopeful that his star back will be able to play next week.

The NFL MVP missed the last three-plus quarters of the Seahawks' 20-10 playoff win over the Washington Redskins on Saturday after sustaining a concussion. For a while, his injury was the only downer to soaring Seattle winning its first playoff game since 1984.

After the game, coach Mike Holmgren said, "I think he's going to be fine" for next Sunday's NFC championship game.

"I think if I had showed him a picture of a truck, he would have said it was a truck -- and not a butterfly," Holmgren said, adding doctors will run more tests on Alexander in the coming days.

Alexander didn't talk publicly after the game. But on his way off the field at halftime, Alexander had a brief chat with team president Tim Ruskell. That ended with both men nodding their heads assuredly. Seconds later, with his team coat over his shoulder pads and his hood over his head, he flashed an "OK" sign to fans before he entered the tunnel to the locker room.

He also left the field smiling and pumping his fists after the win. Inside the locker room, he kept on smiling and looked exactly as he has after each game of his 1,880-yard season.

But the Seahawks weren't smiling when Alexander was hit in the side of the head as he was falling during a 1-yard loss. Washington defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin immediately signaled to the Seattle sideline for medical attention for Alexander, who was face down on the turf while propped up on both knees. Griffin made the initial hit into Alexander's legs that brought down the league rushing champion.

Running Back
Seattle Seahawks

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
370 1880 27 15 78 1

"I mean, you always take a deep breath when the MVP of the league goes down," said 13-year veteran fullback Mack Strong, Alexander's personal protector for the last six seasons.

After a few hushed moments inside the otherwise roaring stadium, Alexander walked to the sideline. He spent the next series sitting on the bench and occasionally moving his head around while trainers talked to him. A series after that, he looked less likely to return. Alexander, still seated, wore a Seahawks coat with the hood pulled up over his head. At the time, the Seahawks announced his return was questionable.

He had 9 yards on six carries when he left. Maurice Morris replaced him and had 12 yards on his first six carries and finished with 49 yards on 18 carries.

It was hardly the day Alexander anticipated, after carrying Seattle the entire year while setting an NFL single-season record for touchdowns with 28. But he put on his best face and became the most accomplished cheerleader in the NFL.

When his team was on offense, Alexander stood near Holmgren, his effervescent smile as steady as the daylong rain. By then, a blue team skull cap replaced the hood on his head.

He was also a coat valet for Morris when the backup would come to the sideline.

"Yeah. And he was making sure my hands stayed dry," Morris said, marveling at the personal service.

After Matt Hasselbeck's 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Seahawks a 14-3 lead, Alexander marched out to the numbers on the field to hug his quarterback. During timeouts, he poked his head into conferences between Hasselbeck and Holmgren.

Seattle had another injury to a starter, left cornerback Andre Dyson. He left in the second quarter with a right ankle injury. Jordan Babineaux took Dyson's place until 13:10 was left in the game. One play later, a Mark Brunell pass skipped off Dyson's helmet in the end zone and into Santana Moss' hands for a touchdown. That cut Seattle's lead to 17-10.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press