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Sunday, October 1, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hawks get waxed in Windy City

Seattle Times staff reporter

CHICAGO — It figured to be a defensive struggle. A game between a team with an already reputable unit, the Chicago Bears, against a team with a defense that was on the rise in respectability, the Seahawks.

Instead, the fans at Soldier Field were treated to a blowout in a game that got out of hand in the second quarter. The Bears' defense was everywhere and its offense was almost unstoppable as Chicago overwhelmed the Seahawks 37-6.

This was something new for Seattle. They hadn't been pushed around like this since the 38-9 drubbing they absorbed from the Buffalo Bills in November of 2004. And in a game between a pair of NFC unbeatens vying for the early hold on home field advantage in the playoffs, the Bears were the ones to shine on national television.

The game was no must-win situation for the Seahawks, but the Bears are a team the Seahawks could see down the road in the postseason, and maybe on the road.

Give the Bears' defense credit for turning Matt Hasselbeck's questionable decision-making with his throws into interceptions and eventually points. Give their offense some credit for moving the ball well through the air, something that just isn't normally associated with the Chicago Bears.

Give the Seahawks' defense a little credit for allowing only 10 points off two turnovers in the first half. But the way the Bears played defense, a 14-point halftime deficit was too much for the Seahawks to overcome. And in the second half, the Bears' offense poured it on even more.

The Seahawks opened the scoring with a good drive that more times than not would have produced a touchdown.

Except the Bears, who had two different defensive backs burned on a 31-yard pass play from Hasselbeck to Deion Branch and a 22-yard completion to Darrell Jackson on the opposite side of the field, were stingy in the red zone. On first and goal from the Chicago 7, Hasselbeck tried for Nate Burleson, but the pass was too far out of his reach.

Then Maurice Morris was tripped up for just two yards on a running play. And on third-and-goal, Hasselbeck's pass for Itula Mili was knocked away in the end zone by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

The Seahawks entered the game with seven touchdowns in nine trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line. They failed to score a touchdown in their two trips Sunday, settling for just a pair of Josh Brown field goals.

The first was a 22-yard field goal with 8:58 left in the first quarter for 3-0 lead, the only lead the Seahawks would have in the game. And it was very short-lived.

The Bears came back with an impressive drive for a touchdown. Quarterback Rex Grossman found Muhsin Muhammad for 14 yards and later hit tight end Desmond Clark for 16 more.

Then running back Thomas Jones ran for 15 yards, and on third-and-8 from the Seattle 9, Grossman found Muhammad wide open in the end zone on a breakdown in the Seahawks' pass coverage, and the Bears took the lead. They never gave it up.

After a Robbie Gould field goal, the Bears forced a three-and-out, then Ricky Manning, Jr., jumped the route on a Hasselbeck pass for Branch and ran the interception back 39 yards.

The Bears were held to a field goal for a 13-3 lead thanks to a good goal-line stand by the Seahawks. But Hasselbeck erred again.

With 5:13 left in the second quarter, Hasselbeck was pressured and rolled to his right. He threw into heavy traffic toward the middle of the field, where Manning was waiting for his second interception.

That set up the Bears at Seattle's 37-yard line, and Thomas Jones capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown.

The Seahawks rallied for a 12-play, 75-yard drive that produced another Brown field goal and trailed 20-6 at halftime. But the Bears put together a 10-play, 65-yard possession to open the second half, helped by a pass interference call against Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant in the end zone, and Jones ran in from the 1 for a 21-point Chicago lead.

The game was effectively over at that point.

The Seahawks had a chance for a touchdown, but Jackson bobbled a deep pass out of bounds and out of his hands midway through the third quarter. He was so open that he would have scored easily.

On the very next play, Bears defensive end Mark Anderson beat perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones for a sack of Hasselbeck. The Seahawks were forced to punt.

The Bears took a 34-6 lead with 51 seconds left in the third quarter on a 40-yard scoring pass from Grossman to Bernard Berrian, with whom the Seahawks had trouble for much of the evening.

Hasselbeck was sacked five times before finally being replaced by backup Seneca Wallace midway through the fourth quarter.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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