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SHAUN HAS BEEN ALEXANDER THE GREAT
SEAHAWKS' TOUGH LINE HELPS ESTABLISH THE RUN

The last time the Buffalo Bills went on the road, their opponent rushed for 208 yards and controlled the ball for 41 minutes, 22 seconds.

The Seattle Seahawks would like nothing better than to copy that formula Sunday, and they have just the man who could make it happen -- running back Shaun Alexander.

Alexander leads the NFL in rushing with 1,151 yards. He's tied for second in the NFL in total touchdowns with 13, and he has the best per-carry average of the league's leading backs at 5.1 yards an attempt.

"Shaun Alexander is a beast," Bills safety Lawyer Milloy said.

"Shaun Alexander is an excellent back, one of the top backs in the league right now," Bills linebacker London Fletcher said. "He has size, speed and patience, too. He has kind of deceptive speed. He runs away from a lot of defenders."

It will be a matchup of strength versus strength.

The Bills rank sixth in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 101 yards a game. They are tied for fourth lowest in yards per attempt, yielding 3.6 a carry.

The Bills are not a finesse defense. Defensive tackles Sam Adams and Pat Williams combine to form a 675-pound roadblock in the middle.

There's nothing finesse about Seattle's offensive line, either. Tackle Walter Jones and guard Steve Hutchinson are Pro Bowlers and form the most powerful left-side tandem in the league.

The Seahawks don't do a lot of pulling, like the New York Jets' line. They line up and knock opponents straight ahead off the ball.

"Their main play is a straight I-formation lead," Fletcher said. "It's downhill running. He does have the ability to get outside and make some nice gains that way, too."

"Their offensive line is very good," Bills coach Mike Mularkey said. "I think they take a lot of pride in their run-blocking. They're a physical bunch."

Alexander has been on a tear the past month, averaging 156 yards a game. In the win over Miami on Sunday, he had 96 rushing yards. The previous three games he gained 176 against St. Louis, 160 against San Francisco and 195 against Carolina.

Alexander, 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, was a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2000. He made the Pro Bowl last year after a 1,435-yard season.

"My favorite back, who I think I'm most like, was Tony Dorsett," Alexander said Wednesday. "I think I'm like a bigger version of Tony Dorsett."

Of his line, he says, "I think they're the best in the biz. I mean, I've been blessed to have easily two of the best eight linemen in the NFL on my team. That's something you laugh about because not too many people get put into a situation like that."

The only 100-yard rusher against the Bills this season came in the last road game, when New England's Corey Dillon gained 151 yards. Rams star Marshall Faulk managed 6 yards Sunday. Dillon got a lot of his yards to the outside.

"I think we've been sound, disciplined, and we have players who are designed to contain the run," Mularkey said. "I'll give credit to New England, they did a nice job blocking. Their receivers blocked well, and we didn't get off blocks well. We didn't use the right techniques to keep the run inside, and that's going to happen if you don't do it. When you do it, like we did in the last game, you're successful."
e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

RB SHAUN ALEXANDER, SEATTLE

Age: 26 Ht: 5-11 Wt: 225

Fast facts:

Leading rusher with 1,151 yards

Tied for second in touchdowns with 13

Per carry average 5.1 yards

Quote: "I think I'm like a bigger version of Tony Dorsett."

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