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Paul Allen’s wallet may bankroll Seattle into the playoffs

October 29, 1997

SEATTLE (AP) _ Suddenly, the Seahawks are beginning to believe in themselves.

After all, if the Florida Marlins could win the World Series in their fifth season, why can’t the Seahawks win a Super Bowl in their 21st year?

With three wins in a row and five in their last six games, the 5-3 Seahawks at least have a good shot at the playoffs for the first time since 1988 as they head for Denver.

Their first meeting is a distant memory now, the second game of an 0-2 start in which the Seahawks were outscored 79-17.

``I didn’t think we’d get off to as slow as start as we did,″ says Warren Moon, who is playing 10 years younger than his 40 years at quarterback. ``It wasn’t the fact that we were 0 and 2. It was the way we were 0 and 2. But I’m not surprised where we are right now. I knew it was just a matter of time before this team was going to turn it around.″

Said coach Dennis Erickson: ``They believe in each other. The defense believes that the offense can score and vice versa. When you start doing that, you start gaining some confidence.″

With Moon throwing for 409 yards and five touchdowns, the Seahawks beat the Oakland Raiders 45-34 in the Kingdome last Sunday, overcoming a 31-18 deficit early in the fourth quarter.

That gives them confidence going against a Denver team that is 7-1 and beat them 35-14 in Week 2, when Moon made his first start for John Friesz, who was injured in the opener.

It doesn’t matter if the Broncos are 9 1/2-point favorites.

``I think the biggest key for out team right now is that we all believe whenever we step out on the field that we’re going to win,″ Moon said.

``Every team in this league has great talent, but it’s the ones that have the most confidence who step out there and actually have a legitimate chance of winning. And I don’t know if that feeling has always been around here.″

That’s for sure.

Northern California developer Ken Behring bought the Seahawks before the 1988. They made the playoffs at 9-7, but it was downhill after that.

Under Behring, the Seahawks went 7-9, 9-7, 7-9, 2-14, 6-10, 6-10, 8-8 and 7-9, eight consecutive nonplayoff years. Mike McCormack and Chuck Knox left. Tom Flores came and went, too.

In January 1995, Behring brought in Dennis Erickson from the University of Miami, where he won national championships in ’89 and ’91.

Behring tried to move the Seahawks to Los Angeles in February ’96. The NFL told him no. In April ’96, Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of the Microsoft Corp. and the owner of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers, took an option to buy the Seahawks.

On June 30, he exercised it after the state’s voters approved a new outdoor football stadium.

But even before that, he was improving the team.

His money brought in Chad Brown, Willie Williams, Dan Saleauma and Bennie Blades to help the defense, and Moon to be Friesz’s backup. His money let the Seahawks move up in the draft to get cornerback Shawn Springs and offensive tackle Walter Jones with the third and sixth picks.

Moon has engineered three comeback victories _ over San Diego, Tennessee and Oakland _ and he’s moved them to the top of the league in offense, averaging 374.3 yards a game.

``How much have the Seahawks improved?″ Denver defensive end Alfred Williams asked. ``It’s like night and day. It looks like Moon is where he’s been all his whole career.″

This week, Moon goes against John Elway, 37. Elway knows one thing _ he won’t be throwing passes when he’s as old as Moon, who will be 41 on Nov. 18.

``I think he’s crazy,″ Elway said. ``It’s hard for me to imagine playing at 40.″

The Seahawks aren’t going to be happy with just making the playoffs. They want to win the AFC West, too.

``The bottom line when we were 0 and 2, we knew that the ingredients were there,″ Erickson said. ``We just had to bring it together somehow.″

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