Seahawks' playmakers giving Matt Hasselbeck plenty of support
The Seahawks' fortunes have paralleled Matt Hasselbeck in recent years, but Sunday's victory shows Seattle can win even when its quarterback plays an average game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams, 10 a.m., Ch. 13
Matt Hasselbeck wasn't on the field for either of the Seahawks' second-half touchdowns.
He watched the defense fend off two fourth-down throws into the end zone in the final three minutes.
So what was it like for someone who plays the most important position in football to be a spectator for the decisive moments of Sunday's victory?
"It was fun," he said. "It was exciting. Our defense played great, created a lot of turnovers. Our crowd was into it. Obviously, our special teams has really led the way for us so far this year ... It was fun to be a part of it."
It was also progress. Seattle won without Hasselbeck playing a great game. That hasn't happened much recently.
Since the 2008 season began, Seattle needed Hasselbeck to play well — maybe even excellent — to have a chance to win.
The Seahawks were 6-3 in games in which he had a passer rating higher than 80. Less than 80? Seattle was 1-13 before Sunday, when the Seahawks won with Hasselbeck getting a rating of 77.6.
A rating of 66.7 is considered average. Hasselbeck was better than that, but well short of great.
"He played a very solid, very solid game," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
Not superb. Not spectacular. And Seattle still won, which made this noteworthy and at least a little like old times.
From 2003 to 2007, Seattle was 9-12 in games when Hasselbeck had a passer rating of less than 80.
It's not exactly breaking news that the Seahawks had a better team around him when the franchise was busy making the playoffs five successive seasons.
Through the first two games this season, Hasselbeck's performance remained the weather vane for Seattle's fortunes. In Week 1 against San Francisco, he rallied from a game-opening interception against San Francisco to complete 16 of his next 20 passes and he had a hand in all three of Seattle's offensive touchdowns. In Week 2 at Denver, his three interceptions pretty much surrendered any chance Seattle had of winning.
And Week 3? He was as much of a non-factor as a quarterback can be in an offense like Seattle's.
He had a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Carlson and was intercepted on a deep heave toward Mike Williams that had too much air under it. A 42-yard scoring pass to Deion Branch was nullified because Branch fumbled out of the end zone, but Hasselbeck also overthrew Carlson on a third-and-one scramble.
The quarterback's balance sheet was pretty close to even yet Seattle still won. That is progress because it's evidence there may be more difference-makers on this roster now. It's not all up to the quarterback.
The Seahawks have Leon Washington, a former — and perhaps future — Pro Bowl kick returner. In two quarters of his third game in Seattle, he accomplished something that no one had in the first 34 years of franchise history: He returned two kickoff returns for touchdowns. He will be named the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday.
Rookie free safety Earl Thomas picked off two passes in his third game. No Seahawk safety has intercepted more than three passes in any season since 2004.
Golden Tate again flashed big-play potential, linebacker Chris Clemons had two sacks and anyone who wondered whether Lofa Tatupu's best years were behind him needs to watch the first three games again. The Seahawks' middle linebacker is playing at the Pro Bowl level of his first three seasons.
Carroll entered this offseason saying the team sought more firepower. Has he seen evidence that there are more difference makers on this roster now?
"It's (too) early to tell," Carroll said.
Still, Sunday showed Seattle has much more than a quarterback in its arsenal.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.orgRatings game
Here's a look at how Seattle fared according to Matt Hasselbeck's quarterback rating going back to 2003:
Matt Hasselbeck/QB rating less than 80/QB rating of 80 or more
Seahawks record 2008 to present/2-13 (.133)/6-3 (.667)
Seahawks record 2003 to 2007/9-12 (.429)/38-15 (.717)
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