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Foes carry baggage into third showdown

St. Louis coach Mike Martz made the highlight shows when he flamboyantly said the Rams won't hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Seattle's Shaun Alexander accused his coach of stabbing him in the back.

Is this the NFL or a soap opera?

"Okay, nothing going on this week," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren joked as the Seahawks prepared for today's playoff game against the Rams.

Not exactly, coach.

Alexander's claim of being "stabbed in the back" by Holmgren was big news in Seattle. The running back finished 1 yard short of the NFL rushing title, and he questioned his coach for calling a quarterback sneak at the goal line in last week's win over Atlanta.

Alexander apologized the next day.

Meanwhile, Holmgren defended his decision to let troubled receiver Koren Robinson have another yank on the coach's disciplinary chain. Robinson, who sat out six of the final seven games, skipped a team meeting last weekend.

Holmgren insisted nobody's taking advantage of him.

"I've been at this a long time, 12 years coaching and teaching in high school," he said. "Believe me, I've heard every "Dog ate my homework' story imaginable. I don't think I'm naive that way."

Who can forget Martz's act this season?

Usually, critics complain that he wastes timeouts. Lately, Martz has offered plenty of material off the field, none more curious than a heated exchange with injured offensive lineman Kyle Turley.

Supposedly, Martz filed a complaint with NFL security, claiming Turley threatened him during a meeting in the coach's office.

"I was never asked about it until recently," Martz explained. "It's unfortunate for the National Football League, but it doesn't serve anybody well at all. It's long gone, a dead issue, really."

Then there was this gem, when Martz called out his whole team after an 18-point loss to New England:

"We don't hold hands and get in a seance and sing "Kumbaya, My Lord,' " he said. "I'm not into that. We've got a direction we're going and you're on the train or you're not. Get out. Period."

No wonder these teams had such up-and-down seasons, with Seattle at 9-7 squeaking out the NFC West title over the 8-8 Rams.

"This is a team full of drama and we've had it all the time," said former Buc Trent Dilfer, Seattle's reserve quarterback. "I guess you could say we thrive on it. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. We're so focused on winning the game."

Oh yeah. The game.

The Seahawks lost both meetings to St. Louis this season, including Oct. 10, when the Rams erased a 27-10 deficit, forced overtime and won 33-27.

Seattle hasn't won a playoff game since beating the Raiders 13-7 on Dec. 22, 1984, at the Kingdome. It's the first time in five seasons the Seahawks have been home during the playoffs.