Hasselbeck simply playing his guts out
Seahawks QB survives sore ribs, repeated blitzes, and still has energy for a joke or two.
Seattle Times NFL reporter
ST. LOUIS — The Rams coughed up the lead in the second half.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck coughed up something else entirely afterward, heaving violently in the bathroom of the Seahawks' locker room.
Hasselbeck spent four quarters in the crosshairs of a blitz-happy defense as the Rams employed every implement short of the kitchen sink. And while the Seahawks avoided defeat, their quarterback took a little beating and spent a few minutes hunched over the bathroom sink.
"Honestly, I was just exhausted," Hasselbeck said. "There's nothing left. I need a cheeseburger or something."
A wretched performance? That was Seattle's offense in the first quarter. A wretching performance? That was Hasselbeck afterward, delaying his postgame interview for more than 20 minutes.
"That wasn't me back there," Hasselbeck joked. "That was Josh Brown."
No, that wasn't the kicker.
"Maybe it was Darren Krein," Hasselbeck said.
Nope, not the assistant strength coach, either.
But Hasselbeck wasn't going to spend time explaining what ailed him. November is no time for transparency from an NFL quarterback. Especially not one relied upon as heavily as Seattle relies upon Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck always has been the most important player of Seattle's offense, but for so much of this season he has been one of the only effective players on that offense, too. He's Seattle's strength and he's going to grit his teeth and smile to avoid showing any vulnerability — even after a game in which the Rams sacked him five times and he had to rally his team from a double-digit deficit for the second time in eight days.
So how are those ribs, so sore Hasselbeck didn't practice until Friday.
"I'm OK," Hasselbeck said. "I'm fine now. It was not a Tylenol-free day."
The Rams sacked Hasselbeck twice in Seattle's first three plays, injecting a little pain and a whole lot of paranoia into Seattle's game plan.
"Your quarterback, unless he's Superman, is going to get a little bit jumpy," coach Mike Holmgren said. "At least questioning stuff. And that's what happens."
For one quarter, Seattle's offense played about as badly as possible. The Seahawks' most productive play on its first two possessions was an incomplete pass. The Seahawks were penalized for a false start, sacked twice and their only rush resulted in two points for St. Louis when Adam Carriker, a Kennewick product, tackled Maurice Morris in the end zone.
First quarter net offense: minus-1 yard.
And that opening quarter truly was a negative one for Seattle's offense. Seattle couldn't figure out the blitz scheme employed by Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Then the Seahawks made the decision that changed the course of the game. They stopped trying to figure out that blitz scheme.
Holmgren shifted the Seahawks into a no-huddle offense in the second quarter, and while the drive ended with an interception, it did prove a point. Seattle effectively moved the ball when it stopped trying to anticipate where quarterback pressure would come from.
"We stopped trying to guess," Hasselbeck said.
And the Seahawks started moving the ball. A 51-yard drive on their first possession of the second half led to a field goal. A 67-yard drive later in the third quarter resulted in a touchdown when the Seahawks ripped off their longest run of the season, a 46-yard draw play by Maurice Morris.
And then in the fourth quarter, Hasselbeck completed five consecutive passes during an 80-yard touchdown drive that completed Seattle's comeback. Hasselbeck completed 10 of 20 passes for 104 yards in the first half, 11 of 18 for 145 yards and a touchdown in the second.
The only significant shortcoming of the second half was that Seattle failed to punctuate its second-half statement. They didn't gain the final few yards they needed to seal the game. Instead, they relied on some good luck and one bad snap that doomed St. Louis' final chance at winning.
That gut-wrenching conclusion was followed by a stomach-turning experience for Hasselbeck in the bathroom of Seattle's locker room.
He was sick. And just think, he hadn't even watched the tape of the first half yet.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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