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SEAHAWKS 28, FALCONS 26

Safe landing for Seahawks

After up-and-down season, Seattle claims West crown

SEATTLE -- Matt Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes and got another TD on a sneak, leading the Seahawks to a 28-26 win over the Atlanta Falcons yesterday and helping Seattle win the NFC West and secure a first-round playoff game at home.

The Seahawks (9-7) barely avoided a late meltdown. Falcons running back Warrick Dunn was stopped on a 2-point conversion attempt that would have forced overtime. Reserve quarterback Matt Schaub threw a 3-yard TD pass to Brian Finneran as time expired.

Seattle will host NFC West rival St. Louis Saturday afternoon in a wild-card playoff game.

"You have a better chance at home," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "You should. It's a `thank you' to your fans, as much as anything else."

A meaningless game for Atlanta (11-5), which had secured the NFC's No. 2 seed in the playoffs two weeks ago, took a worrisome turn when quarterback Michael Vick left after playing three series because he felt numbness in his throwing hand.

But Vick said he will be ready to play in the divisional playoff round in two weeks. He said he felt the numbness after a second-quarter hit.

"My hand went numb, but I was ready to get back out there. I feel good," Vick said.

Vick went 6 of 7 for 35 yards with a 2-yard TD pass to Peerless Price. Vick also ran three times for 13 yards.

Seattle's Shaun Alexander ran for 80 yards, finishing 1 yard behind Curtis Martin of the New York Jets (1,697) for the NFL's rushing title.

"It's too bad we didn't get the ball back," Holmgren said. "They ate up the clock with their final drive. [Alexander] had a chance at the rushing title and just missed it."

Hasselbeck threw a 3-yard TD pass to Jerramy Stevens midway through the fourth, giving the Seahawks their first lead, 21-17. Hasselbeck made it 28-20 on a 1-yard sneak with 4:28 to play.

After an up-and-down ride in which Seattle sometimes was a big disappointment, Hasselbeck and his teammates were happy to be playoff-bound.

"We didn't do it the easy way. We did it the hard way, and it was a little sloppy at times," Hasselbeck said. "But we got it done. That's what counts."

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