After carrying the Seahawks for much of Saturday afternoon, Matt Hasselbeck left the field with his son, Henry, on his shoulders.
It was a postcard moment after Seattle’s 41-36 victory over New Orleans. The kind you frame for posterity. Except no one knows exactly what it would commemorate. Not yet.
Hasselbeck has never played so well in such a meaningful game during his 10 seasons as Seattle’s starting quarterback, not even during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season. But this game may have been more than that, too. It could have been the final home game of this season and perhaps his final home game as a Seahawk. It all depends on what happens in Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Chicago.
The uncertainty is kind of appropriate for Hasselbeck’s season because it’s hard to know just what to make of the future of the Seahawks’ longest-tenured player. He is 35, playing under his fourth general manager, his third offense in three years and his contract expires at the end of this season.
Saturday’s performance was better than a billboard showcasing his talents in a league where as many as a quarter of the teams could be looking for quarterbacks this offseason, and you can bet that everyone from the 49ers to the Cardinals to the Vikings took notice of what Hasselbeck did.
This could be a crossroad in his tenure, could be a standoff or this could be a playoff run that assures he stays right where he is, as Seattle’s starting quarterback. He was the best player on Seattle’s offense this season, but he’s also had a fan throw his jersey at him and heard his home crowd chant the backup quarterback’s name.
Last week, the most productive quarterback in this franchise’s history had to wait until two days before the Saints game for coach Pete Carroll to declare him the starter, but on Saturday, Hasselbeck threw four touchdown passes, making sure that no one thinks his 2004 coin-toss call in overtime at Green Bay was his most memorable playoff moment. Hasselbeck didn’t say he wanted the ball nor did he predict Seattle would score, he just relentlessly riddled the secondary of the defending Super Bowl champions.
“Ridiculously good,” Carroll said of Hasselbeck’s game.
So as Hasselbeck’s future becomes a bigger question