Matt Hasselbeck sent a text message to his wife, Sarah, explaining his latest calamity.
“I hurt my wrist,” the Seahawks quarterback told her, perhaps seeking some TLC.
“Good!!” she wrote back. “I thought it was your head.”
You know you’ve had a tough few weeks at work when a broken wrist warrants celebration.
Victorious yet ailing, Hasselbeck laughed while telling the story. “Good, with two exclamation marks!” he exclaimed, shaking his head. “I was like, ‘Good? Really? Good?’ ”
Yes, good. A mere cracked bone on the non-throwing wrist couldn’t stop the resilient quarterback on this day. He was too hot to be denied. And he was too eager to compete after missing last week’s 41-7 humiliation against the Giants because of a concussion.
Teammates saw Hasselbeck’s intensity early. During preparation for this game last week, he was more vocal and pointed with a seize-the-opportunity message. Before kickoff, the quarterback “inspired us,” running back Justin Forsett said, declaring that this was the Seahawks’ time to break through, that this game must be played like a championship game, and that he knew this team was about to show everyone who the real Seahawks are.
His words weren’t breathless chatter, either. By Sunday afternoon, he was a prophet. The Seahawks beat Arizona 36-18 at University of Phoenix Stadium, with Hasselbeck dissecting the Cardinals’ defense with surgeon-like precision.
Hasselbeck hasn’t looked this confident running an offense since 2007, when coach Mike Holmgren put the team’s hopes on his arm and No. 8 led the Seahawks to their most recent playoff appearance. He completed 22 of 34 passes with 333 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t turn the ball over. As a result, the suddenly sleek Seahawks offense put up a season-high 490 total yards.
In their previous two games, the Seahawks had managed just 328 combined yards. It’s amazing how imaginative an offense can look when the offensive line protects the quarterback.
Granted, Arizona was without its best defensive lineman, tackle Darnell Dockett. But the Seahawks have allowed just two sacks the past two weeks after giving up 13 in the two games before that. Their offensive line is a fluid unit, but their pass protection has stabilized for the time being.
“The offense really came to life,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I thought Matt played a great football game.”
Of course, this being the Hawks, a great performance wasn’t achieved without tempting a grave one. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates called a marvelous game, except when Carroll enabled him to call a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one from the 16-yard line late in the second quarter. Seattle could’ve let Olindo Mare, who made five field goals, attempt a 33-yarder. Already ahead 17-10, those three points would’ve given it a 20-10 halftime lead. Instead, Carroll got greedy — again.
Behind an offensive line that consistently struggles in power-running situations, Hasselbeck didn’t get the yard. And he broke his wrist on the play.
Gamblin’ Pete almost lost the season on that one.
“I’d like to think we’re going to make that,” Carroll said of the fourth-down attempt. “And that’s my nature about wanting to make it, and sometimes I have to work against my nature.”
During halftime, X-rays revealed the cracked bone, and Hasselbeck, who threw for 273 yards in the first half, missed the first two series of the third quarter because he was trying out bandages and splints to see if he could play. As he waited and tested the wrist, he could hear the play calls coming in through his helmet. He wanted badly to get back in the game, but he wasn’t hopeful.
“I didn’t think I could go,” Hasselbeck said. “In my mind, I was like, ‘There’s no way.’ ”
It’s funny, Hasselbeck said, because last week Carroll was telling the team about a game he coached with New England in which quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured and couldn’t feel his hand. Hasselbeck couldn’t remember the message of the story, just that detail. Now, he was in a similar situation.
The medical staff found the right bandage to protect Hasselbeck, and he jogged back to the sideline in the middle of the third quarter. He had to throw just 11 more passes because Forsett (64 rushing yards) helped the Seahawks manufacture a running game in the second half.
So we’re praising Hasselbeck’s toughness now. The 35-year-old proved he still has the arm to allow young receivers Mike Williams (11 catches, 145 yards), Deon Butler (63-yard touchdown reception) and Ben Obomanu (four catches, 60 yards) to use their wheels. He even threw a 44-yard pass to tight end Chris Baker.
“It was like you do at recess,” Hasselbeck said of that play. “Everybody go long.”
It appears that concussion sent Hasselbeck back to the schoolyard. He’s having fun again. No wonder the offense was a joy to watch for a change.
Hasselbeck has another injury to manage, but what else is new? As long as it’s not his head, as long as the Seahawks are winning, then you’re left to react in the same manner as his relieved wife.
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Tags: Championship Game, Coach Mike Holmgren, Concussion, Humiliation, Justin Forsett, Kickoff, Matt Hasselbeck, Offensive Line, Playoff Appearance, seahawks offense, Seahawks Quarterback, Sunday Afternoon, Two Games, University Of Phoenix, University Of Phoenix Stadium, Wife Sarah
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