SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks showed last season they can move the ball. And while it's only one game, the biggest difference this year appears to be that they can stop it, too.
"We had to play well to win this game," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I think you saw we have a chance to be improved on defense."
Seattle's defense held the Saints to 103 yards rushing, meaningful because the Seahawks ranked last in the NFL last season, giving up 152.6 yards rushing per game.
It's harder to measure the number of hard hits the Seattle defenders put on the Saints, but the influence of new defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes was evident in the team's more aggressive play.
"That's what we talked about all week, being physical with these guys," cornerback Willie Williams said. "We're coming out with a different attitude this year. Hopefully, we can play like that every week."
The Seahawks scored 21 straight points in the second quarter, reaching the end zone on each of their possessions to erase the Saints' early 3-0 lead.
"We missed a couple of tackles in the second quarter that led to big plays, and we didn't move the ball very well," New Orleans coach Jim Haslett said. "It was a combination of everything."
Alexander started the binge with a 1-yard dive, Hasselbeck threw a 35-yard TD strike to Koren Robinson and, later, a 10-yard TD pass to Alexander. Josh Brown added a 37-yard field goal in the third period.
"We wanted to wear them down," Alexander said. "Those guys are big, and we wanted to run them sideline to sideline. But we had the most success when we ran straight at them."
The Seahawks averaged an NFL-best 475 yards over the final six weeks last season, winning their last three games.
"We're confident going into the huddle," Hasselbeck said. "We feel we can score on anybody. We have to do it, and we didn't do it as much as we should have today."
Chike Okeafor, who joined the Seahawks as a free agent, got his first career interception in the third quarter to set up Brown's 37-yarder, and forced a fourth-quarter fumble that led to Brown's 25-yard kick.
"We made some nice sticks. We need to keep that up," Okeafor said.
New Orleans, the NFC's highest-scoring team last season, managed only 10 points because of four turnovers. The Saints had won four of their last five openers, but they fell behind in the second quarter and never recovered.
"The offensive performance was unacceptable," quarterback Aaron Brooks said. "We're better than this. We've got to get back to the drawing board. We've got to talk about this."
Deuce McAllister of the Saints had 99 yards rushing on 22 carries and Brooks completed 29 of 47 passes for 274 yards with one interception. He threw a 2-yard TD pass to Joe Horn in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks had two rookies starting in the secondary, Marcus Trufant at cornerback and Ken Hamlin at free safety. They both played well, with Hamlin putting a highlight-reel hit on Donte' Stallworth, knocking his helmet loose.
"He cut back on me," Hamlin said. "I was trying to hit the hole. I was just coming downhill, trying to make a big play."
Frustrations mounted for the Saints. Late in the third quarter, Horn shoved Hamlin just after Brooks lost a fumbled snap and Seattle's Anthony Simmons came away with the ball.
Alexander's 1-yard TD plunge put Seattle ahead 7-3. New Orleans committed its first turnover on the ensuing possession. Ken Lucas forced a fumble by Michael Lewis on an end-around, and Antonio Cochran recovered for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks forced another punt, and Hasselbeck worked the two-minute offense to produce a 77-yard drive, capped by a 10-yard pass to Alexander.
- Seattle FB Mack Strong broke a 20-yard run in the second quarter, the longest run of his 11-year NFL career.
- The Saints opened on the road for the third straight year. They beat the Bills in 2001 and won at Tampa Bay last season.
- Seahawks rookie FB Chris Davis left in the second quarter with a knee injury. Holmgren didn't know the extent of the injury, but said Davis will be evaluated late Sunday.
The Associated Press News Service
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