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Originally published January 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 14, 2007 at 11:46 PM

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Seahawks fall short in overtime

Maybe the injuries were too much of a factor to overcome, the up-and-down play from one week to the next too prevalent to make the Seahawks a Super Bowl team again.

Seattle Times staff reporter

CHICAGO — Maybe they weren't supposed to get this far anyway.

Maybe the injuries that forced roster upheaval were too much of a factor to overcome, the up-and-down play from one week to the next too prevalent to make the Seahawks a Super Bowl team. Maybe winning the division, winning a playoff game and being in the divisional playoffs was all they could have hoped for after a season like this.

The Seahawks played today as if they had nothing to lose. But losing 27-24 to the heavily-favored Chicago Bears in overtime in the playoffs was still shocking and painful.

The season came to a bitter end with Robbie Gould's 49-yard field goal with 10:02 left in overtime Sunday at Soldier Field. And the guys in white jerseys who had hoped to pull off the stunner were left stunned, standing on the field as Soldier Field erupted into bedlam.

"People outside of our team weren't giving us a chance because of how poorly we played the first time [against Chicago in October]," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "But we knew we could get it done today. We know what we're capable of as team, and it was right there for us. We just didn't get it done."

They were close. Few would have thought the Seahawks would have a 24-21 late in the fourth quarter. Few, even the most diehard of 12th men and women, would have imagined a Seahawks offense throwing the ball and running with such success against a staunch Bears' defense. Or that the Bears, for so much of the second half, looked perplexed on defense, unsure on offense and unable to stir up their home crowd.

"It felt like we were going to win," the Seahawks' Bryce Fisher said.

The Bears rallied, however, tying the game with Gould's 41-yard field goal with 4:24 left in regulation and forcing overtime thanks to defensive stops on a pair on fourth downs. Even when the Seahawks won the overtime coin toss — this time without Hasselbeck, who made the ill-fated pronouncement "We want the ball, and we're going to score" at Green Bay four years ago — the Bears' defense came through.

Two minutes into overtime, on third-and-2 from the Seattle 48, Hasselbeck rolled out to his right looking for Bobby Engram. But Engram wasn't open, and Hasselbeck tried forcing a pass downfield that fell incomplete. The Seahawks had to punt.

Ryan Plackemeier's kick went off the side of his foot and just 18 yards, with Chicago's Israel Idonije roaring up the middle at him. The Bears took over and moved the ball to the Seattle 31, the key play a 30-yard pass from Rex Grossman to Rashied Davis.

That play loomed as the game's biggest, outside of the winning field goal.

"They just ran routes against our coverage," said Seahawks cornerback Pete Hunter, who was nearby and couldn't get to Davis in time on the third-and-10 play. "They watch film as well as we do, and they had a good play call."

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The Seahawks forced fourth down, and Gould lined up for the winner. Just like that, it was wait 'til next season.

"We have a good core of players and the organization is healthy," coach Mike Holmgren said, "and I hope down the road we get a few more cracks at this thing."

Sure, there were moral victories to take from this loss. The Seahawks were probably lucky to even be in Chicago with all they endured this season. But no one was saying anything like that after the game.

"We were one play away from advancing to the NFC championship game," cornerback Jordan Babineaux said. "You mean to tell me you're not going to go out there and give it your all?"

It just wasn't quite enough in a game that matched score for score, momentum swing for momentum swing.

The game's wildest turn of events began after the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter. The Seahawks went for a first down on fourth-and-1 from the Chicago 44, but Hasselbeck bobbled the snap from center and the play resulted in a 2-yard loss for Shaun Alexander.

The Bears took possession but went three-and-out. The Seahawks got the ball and needed 10 yards from the Chicago 45 to keep their last-minute drive alive, but Tank Johnson sacked Hasselbeck to force overtime.

Alexander was as good as he'd been in a game all season, running with purpose on his way to a 108-yard, two-touchdown day. Hasselbeck, too, kept the Seahawks in the game by hanging in despite a fierce pass rush throughout the game.

The Seahawks scored 10 unanswered points to start the second half and take a 24-21 lead. A first down in the late going might have had them celebrating a win. It didn't happen, and now it's the offseason.

"Any time you go to the Super Bowl, there's that hunger," linebacker Lofa Tatupu said. "And it doesn't get satisfied unless you go back and win. We just came up a little short. It was a pretty good ride right here and it's a shame it had to come to an end."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

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