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Revival In Seattle Thanks to an aggressive, hard-hitting defense, coach Mike Holmgren could have his best Seahawks team


The Seahawks have arrived. Sort of. Thanks to the largesse of
their billionaire owner, Paul Allen, this season the team is
flying on the most luxurious charter aircraft in professional
sports. Last Saturday, bound for Phoenix and an NFC West clash
with the Cardinals, the Seahawks traveled in a 757 with 105 easy
chairs, satellite TVs with a remote control for every four seats
and food to die for. Finally, the players thought, they were
getting some respect. And if they continue to play as they did on
Sunday, the Seahawks can expect more royal treatment.

After their 38-0 whitewashing of the embarrassingly bad Cardinals
at an almost-empty Sun Devil Stadium, the 2-0 Seahawks clearly
are a team to be reckoned with--and easily the best of the five
squads that coach Mike Holmgren has fielded. On defense this team
has a nasty edge, thanks to new coordinator Ray Rhodes and a
bunch of players who fly to the ball. Seattle can score, too, as
evidenced by the 65 points it piled up in two so-so efforts. And
the chemistry is better than it's been on some of Holmgren's
previous clubs, provided wideout Koren Robinson doesn't screw it
up. Robinson, a third-year receiver with 100-catch potential, was
suspended by Holmgren and didn't play on Sunday. According to a
club source, Robinson was late to at least two recent team
meetings. The maddening thing, the source says, is that the
wideout was in the facility in time for the meetings but dawdled
and walked in late. By Saturday, Holmgren decided that he'd had
enough. "Koren's a wonderful kid, and I really do like him," he
says, "but he does dumb stuff sometimes. I don't have two sets of

Nine months ago Holmgren wasn't sure he'd be coaching these
Seahawks. After four seasons with only one playoff appearance,
club president Bob Whitsitt told Holmgren that he was going to
take away his general manager's title. Holmgren and his wife,
Kathy, talked about the situation, and he decided to stay. "I
love this team," Holmgren said on Sunday. "As soon as I put my
ego aside and said I could live with a general manager, I was
happy and looking forward to the year."

Seattle brought in Bob Ferguson as its new G.M., but Holmgren
still has the final call on personnel matters. He made two great
decisions early this year. First he hired Rhodes, the acerbic
former head coach who most recently had a crummy two-year run as
the Broncos' defensive coordinator. On Sunday the Seahawks forced
six turnovers, increasing their league-leading total to 10. "He's
the single reason we're so much better," linebacker Chad Brown
says. Holmgren's second key move came on draft day, when he
picked up a pair of defensive backs with his first two
selections, Washington State corner Marcus Trufant and Arkansas
free safety Ken Hamlin.

On the first play from scrimmage on Sunday, Hamlin blasted
Cardinals wideout Bryant Johnson, forcing a fumble that Trufant
returned 31 yards to the Arizona six, setting up Seattle's first
touchdown. Two series later Hamlin launched himself into wideout
Anquan Boldin; the ball popped into the air and Brown
intercepted. "Hits like that are the greatest thing in football,"
said Hamlin, who got his first NFL interception on Arizona's
final snap. "What an adrenaline rush."

These are, in fact, exciting times in Seattle. Seahawks opponents
should take notice.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Hamlin put the exclamation point on Seattle's win with afourth-quarter interception.