Rough days in different ways for Hasselbeck, Alexander
Matt Hasselbeck took the field during the Seahawks' final drive clutching his rib cage with his left hand. He looked either really sore...
Seattle Times staff reporter
DETROIT — Matt Hasselbeck took the field during the Seahawks' final drive clutching his rib cage with his left hand. He looked either really sore or really full or like he stopped in the middle of the "robot" dance, removing the hand only when necessary to move the Seahawks down the field.
He literally took his lumps on Sunday.
The man who followed Hasselbeck into the interview room after the Seahawks beat the Detroit Lions 9-6 in their season opener looked comparatively unscathed despite 19 carries. But make no mistake, a touchdown-less Shaun Alexander was hurting, too.
He took his lumps on the stat sheet.
"They got us," Alexander said of the Lions on defense.
They got Hasselbeck in their grasp for five sacks and countless other knockdowns. They hit him hard, and they hit him often, and they left him sore in the ribs and neck.
Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck has only three NFL games with more sacks than he endured Sunday:
Sept. 23, 2001 vs. Philadelphia
Nov. 23, 2003 at Baltimore
Sept. 30, 2001 at Oakland
Sept. 10, 2006 at Detroit
Sept. 19, 2004 at Tampa Bay
Nov. 2, 2003 vs. Pittsburgh
Nov. 17, 2002 vs. Denver
Dec. 9, 2001 at Denver
But the Lions' defense did not get Hasselbeck when it mattered most. It did not get to him on the Seahawks' final drive, and it did not get to him on the stat sheet. In fact, Hasselbeck started his season with 25 completions in 30 attempts for 210 yards and a 95.8 quarterback rating that suffered from a lack of touchdowns.
"That was a great performance, really a championship performance," offensive coordinator Gil Haskell said of Hasselbeck. "Because he was getting leathered."
Alexander suffered from a different kind of pain. The last-two-games-he-failed-to-score-a-touchdown kind. The fact that both came at Ford Field meant nothing to Alexander, held under 60 yards rushing (he gained 51) for only the fourth time since the beginning of the 2004 season.
Add to that two fumbles, and this wasn't the reigning MVP's best day. On one, the ball surfaced underneath him, and Alexander cradled it like one of his young daughters. On the other, he said it probably looked like he was running the option — pitching the ball to a Detroit defensive back as he was "trying to do too much."
"They probably did the best job I've seen in a long time of sliding linebackers around, sliding [defensive linemen] around, never letting us be quite comfortable with what we [thought] we [saw]," Alexander said. "If you do that to our running game, it can give us problems."
Alexander claimed no worries over the Seahawks' stagnant running game, typical of the Seahawks don't-worry, be-happy running back. But two of his linemen — tackles Walter Jones and Sean Locklear — noted that this year will be more difficult for Alexander.
There's a larger target on his back now.
"It's not going to be as easy as it was last year," Jones said. "He understands that. The team understands that."
Added Locklear: "That's got to be your main goal playing Seattle. You've got to stop the run. If you don't stop the run, you don't got a chance. That's what we live for."
Over and over, Seahawks also gave credit to a Lions defense they swear will surprise some teams this season. A defense that targeted stopping Alexander. And once it accomplished that, it went after Hasselbeck, over and over again.
The Seahawks remained adamant that losing All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson to Minnesota was not the reason their running back had few lanes and their quarterback had to endure sore ribs.
"It's got nothing to do with Steve Hutchinson," Haskell said. "It's got nothing to do with him at all. That defense is a good defense."
And in the end, the Seahawks superstars were suffering from two different kinds of pain, the real and the imagined, and both of them shrugged it off.
"Nothing hurts," Hasselbeck said. "We won."
|Shutting down Shaun|
|In his three previous seasons, Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander had only five games averaging less than 3 yards per carry:|
|Sept. 10, 2006||at Detroit||19||51||2.7|
|Dec. 5, 2005||at Philadelphia||19||49||2.6|
|Oct. 23, 2005||Dallas||21||61||2.9|
|Sept. 26, 2004||San Francisco||19||52||2.7|
|Sept. 19, 2004||at Tampa Bay||17||45||2.6|
|Nov. 2, 2003||Pittsburgh||20||48||2.4|
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