SEATTLE — Mike Holmgren shuffled to the podium in the interview room and tried to keep a straight face.
“Never in doubt,” he said, making everyone around him burst into laughter.
Holmgren is soaking up the good cheer surrounding the Seattle Seahawks, who rallied to beat St. Louis 24-23 on Sunday to start 3-0 for only the second time since the Reagan administration.
Matt Hasselbeck threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Koren Robinson with one minute left, and Josh Brown made the point-after attempt as the Seahawks erased a 13-point deficit.
“Unbelievable,” Hasselbeck said. “It really is. We were talking at the start of the year that we could be 3-0 going into our bye week. To actually do it is another thing.”
The Rams may have lost more than the game. Running back Marshall Faulk, held to 31 yards on 15 carries, left in the third quarter with what is believed to be a broken left hand. He was to be examined again after the team returns home.
“I don’t know what the situation is,” coach Mike Martz said. “They suspect that it’s a broken hand.”
Meanwhile, the Seahawks are undefeated after three games for the first time in five years and only the second time since 1986.
St. Louis (1-2) led 23-10 after Jeff Wilkins kicked a 33-yard field goal with a little under four minutes to play in the third quarter. Marc Bulger fell to 7-2 as St. Louis’ starting quarterback, with both of those losses coming in Seattle.
The Seahawks went on their winning drive when linebacker Anthony Simmons intercepted a tipped pass that Rams receiver Dane Looker couldn’t haul in.
“Bulger was staring his receiver down,” Simmons said. “He thought we were going to bring some people that we were showing in the line. He popped up to throw a quick slant and we were right there on it.”
Seattle, listless through the first half, took over with 3:15 remaining.
On the next play, Hasselbeck found Robinson for a 32-yard gain across midfield. He also made a third-down pass to Bobby Engram for a 13-yard gain to the Rams 29, and got a break after an incomplete pass on third-and-8 at the 13.
Rams defensive tackle Brian Young was flagged for holding after the referees apparently listened to complaints throughout the fourth period by Seattle guard Steve Hutchinson.
“It happened earlier in the game,” Hutchinson said. “I colorfully let the ref know about it a few series before that. I made a point of having him look for it. He saw it, and he called it. It was a crucial call.”
That gave the Seahawks a first down at the 8, and it took three plays before Hasselbeck found Robinson for the game-winner. The final drive covered 74 yards in 10 plays.
Hasselbeck completed 22 of 39 passes for 256 yards and two TDs.
The Rams couldn’t match it. On third down, Bulger’s deep pass to Torry Holt went off the fingers of Seattle free safety Ken Hamlin. Bulger tried the same play on the next down, but overthrew everyone.
Bulger was 21-of-34 for 226 yards with one touchdown.
“I’m happy with Marc,” Martz said. “I thought he did well. He is still young. He’s learning.”
Seattle’s offense, sluggish through the first 21/2 quarters, finally got on track late in the third period. Hasselbeck capped a 70-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson to pull the Seahawks to 23-17 with 14:10 to play.
The Seahawks stalled with about four minutes remaining, when Hasselbeck’s throw to Jackson on fourth-and-1 at their own 41 was incomplete. But Simmons made his interception on the ensuing Rams possession.