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Originally published October 31, 2009 at 3:21 PM | Page modified October 31, 2009 at 8:31 PM

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Seahawks' Thanksgiving memory of Dallas still hurts

Seattle returns to play the Dallas Cowboys less than a year after the Cowboys inflicted a crippling loss that included a season-ending injury to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. With Hasselbeck recovering from broken ribs, the Seahawks hope for a different outcome.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Today

Seahawks @ Dallas, 10 a.m., Ch. 13, 710 AM, 97.3 FM

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The reference point for today's game in Dallas was a sore subject for Seattle.

Very sore.

Last November, the nation watched the Seahawks get beaten quite literally by the Cowboys in a 34-9 loss on Thanksgiving.

"We couldn't do anything right, they couldn't do wrong," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "It was national TV, Thanksgiving. It was tough.

"The whole year was tough, but that was a painful game in more ways than one."

Seattle gave up seven sacks, and Hasselbeck and Walter Jones were out for the season after that holiday loss.

So why bring that up now? Because the setup for this game is so similar. Another injury-riddled season for Seattle is skidding toward the ditch, the Seahawks are headed to Dallas with two victories and a quarterback who's ailing.

The only difference? Last year it was Hasselbeck's back that hurt, this year it's his ribs. Any success Seattle might have in Dallas will have to include keeping him upright.

Coach Jim Mora put it this way: "The challenge to our offense, I think first and foremost, is to protect our quarterback against what is becoming, as the season progresses, a more and more powerful pass rush."

The Cowboys didn't have a sack in either of their first two games. They have 14 in the past four. That's no surprise, since this is a team that led the league in sacks last season and ranked third the year before, when Wade Phillips took over as coach.

Seattle gets some help on the offensive line. Left guard Rob Sims returns from an ankle injury, but the Seahawks will be starting their fourth left tackle in seven games. This time it's veteran Damion McIntosh, who has 111 NFL starts.

Seattle's running game is coming off a historically poor performance against Arizona in which it gained 14 yards, fewest in franchise history.

"It's going to be important this week that we have a decent run game going," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said, "to keep them off balance so they just can't tee off."

That is exactly what happened in Dallas last year. The Cowboys' seven sacks of Hasselbeck were the most Seattle had allowed since September 2001.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware had three of those sacks, including two against Jones, who played despite a knee injury so severe he underwent surgery two weeks later and has not played since.

Hasselbeck sat out the final four games last season after the Dallas loss because of a bulging disk in his back.

"It was a really frustrating way to end it," Hasselbeck said.

Hasselbeck's two broken ribs were still sore enough that he sat out Wednesday's practice after strenuous rehabilitation during the bye week.

"This is Week 6 of my injury, which is typically what it takes to heal," Hasselbeck said.

Well, typically people with broken ribs don't spend three hours on Sundays surrounded by 300-pound snarlers trying to afflict all types of bodily harm.

Hasselbeck was sacked five times in a 24-point loss to Arizona two weeks ago. Afterward Cardinals linebacker Chike Okeafor said he knew Hasselbeck would have to spend some time in the hot tub after that. True enough. Hasselbeck read Okeafor's comment while he was in the hot tub.

"But I had no setbacks in the games that I played," Hasselbeck said.

That must continue for Seattle to have a chance today.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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