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Monday, December 24, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Woods Survives Return To Lb

Returning last night to his native position at linebacker, Tony Woods was confronted with any number of relevant facts. Between adjusting to John Elway's audibles and chasing down Bobby Humphrey on the wing, he had plenty to consider.

Including the goblins.

How else do you explain the eerie Bermuda Triangle effect on the Seattle Seahawk linebacker unit, which against the Denver Broncos lost its sixth and seventh members this season to injury, veteran Dave Ahrens and his backup, Ricky Andrews.

``I thought about it, believe me,'' Woods said. ``We were dropping like flies.''

Woods, who added almost 25 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame in the off-season to move to defensive end, became the Seahawks' emergency linebacker in Seattle's 20-14 victory over Denver. With the defense lacking Ahrens and Andrews - both injured in the first half - Woods was moved into his old spot without any preparation for the second half of the game.

And he survived the encounter. His third-quarter sack of Elway at midfield helped quash a potential Denver scoring drive. But he finished with four tackles and two passes swatted away, and was not exploited by the Bronco quarterback.

``We couldn't keep everything simple,'' said Woods, an outside linebacker when he joined the Seahawks three seasons ago. ``But I played it (linebacker) for my first three years, so I remembered the plays. It was not that much of a problem.''

Seahawk coaches will pass judgment on that last statement, of course, after they watch films today. But they must be pleased.

Woods was called to linebacker duty only after left-side starter Ahrens broke his lower leg on the opening drive of the game, and his replacement, first-year player Andrews, departed with a rotator-cuff injury just before halftime.

Ahrens, signed by the club after an earlier rash of injuries, is out for the season - and perhaps his career. The 10-year NFL veteran expressed hope he could return for another season. But as he waited last night for his wife and child to arrive from Indianapolis for the holidays, a dejected Ahrens was less than certain of a return.

``I'm running out of time. I've never been to the big one (a Super Bowl).

``Nice present this was, huh?''

The injury to Andrews, whose right arm was placed in a sling, appears to be less serious. Though Seahawk Coach Chuck Knox ruled him out for the season, and Andrews could not lift his arm above his head later, Andrews would not rule out a return next week for the season finale against Detroit. He is scheduled to be examined by doctors today.

The Seahawk linebacking corps may be under less stress against the Lions, who use a run-and-shoot offense. Often, only two linebackers will be needed.

Darren Comeaux, who started at middle linebacker early in the season before a knee injury, also said last night he may be able to begin practicing later this week. Rufus Porter, spelled by Joe Cain at linebacker, said he is still bothered by a groin injury.

Other Seattle linebackers injured this year were: David Wyman, who missed more than a month with knee surgery; and Terry Wooden and Ned Bolcar, rookies with knee injuries.

``These (injuries) are ridiculous,'' Wyman said. ``Crazy.''

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TURNING POINT

-- Eugene Robinson's leaping interception turned the game around and probably saved the Seahawks. He grabbed what appeared to be perfectly thrown pass to Vance Johnson out of the Bronco wide receiver's hands at midfield and returned it 39 yards down the sideline to the Denver 11. That set up Seattle's winning touchdown, a 1-yard run by Derrick Fenner in the third quarter.

SPLIT DECISION

-- A season worth of Bronco frustration came spilling out just before halftime and led to . . . more Bronco frustration. Two Denver defenders and Seahawk Ronnie Lee were ejected after a wild scuffle. Alton Montgomery was tossed out of the game for a flagrant facemask penalty that ripped Seahawk Paul Skansi's helmet off. David Galloway and Lee were ejected for their rope-a-dope in full pads along the Denver sideline.

BIG PLAY

-- Another interception, by Melvin Jenkins, stopped a fourth-quarter Denver drive. Jenkins, burned by a long pass on a bomb a year ago against the Broncos, didn't bite on a fake this time. He intercepted the pass just before running out of the end zone.

QB COMPARISON

-- Denver's John Elway completed 18 of 35 passes, but finished with only 171 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also was harassed all night and sacked three times. Despite passing for only 109 yards (14 of 26) and being out of synch all night, Seahawk Dave Krieg threw for one TD - sidearm, no less - and was intercepted only once.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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