SEATTLE - Seattle Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy knew the question.
How does it feel to make history?
“I don’t care,” he said Sunday, smiling. “We’re in the playoffs.”
Indeed they are, as the Seattle Seahawks became the first team in NFL history in a non-strike year to win a division with a sub-.500 record in defeating St. Louis, 16-6, in a win-or-go-home regular-season finale at Qwest Field.
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Both teams finished 7-9, but Seattle advances because of a better division record (4-2 vs. 3-3).
Now the Seahawks face a familiar opponent in New Orleans in the NFC wild-card game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Qwest Field. The Seahawks lost to the Saints in New Orleans, 34-19, on Nov. 21.
Losers of seven of their previous nine heading into the contest, the Seahawks got back to the way they played earlier this season, led by a stingy defense that kept a young Rams offense out of the end zone.
Milloy was one of several players proudly wearing their division champion hats after the Seahawks earned their fifth NFC West title and first playoff appearance in three seasons.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll played coy as to who his starting quarterback would be against St. Louis. But ultimately he stuck to his plan, giving reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst his second career start with Matt Hasselbeck nursing a hip injury.
And the 28-year-old responded with his best performance of the season, finishing 22-for-36 passing for 192 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams, the only touchdown by either team during the game.
“Charlie got it done tonight,” said Carroll, who guided Seattle to the playoffs in his first season. “He did a good job of managing the game and playing within himself. His ability to run tonight was a huge factor.”
Asked what his plan was for next week, Carroll said, “I don’t know. It’s not next week yet.”
Whitehurst helped Seattle seize momentum on the opening drive by leading his team on an 87-yard, six-play scoring drive, with the PAT the only points Seattle needed.
The big play was 61-yard strike down the sideline to receiver Ruvell Martin. Whitehurst was 5-for-5 for 85 yards on the opening drive.
“It was a great start for us,” Whitehurst said. “It calmed me down a bit, honestly. And gave us the confidence on offense that we could do it.”
Milloy said he’s pleased the Seahawks get a chance at redemption against the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.
“We understand that this is the Super Bowl champs coming into Qwest,” Milloy said. “But if I’m going into the playoffs with the first game at Qwest, I’ll take it against anybody.”