A week after knocking off the defending Super Bowl champs, Matt Hasselbeck and the Seattle Seahawks played more like a team with a losing record than a division winner.
Little went right for the Seahawks on a wintry day at Soldier Field. The Chicago Bears took control early and sent first-year coach Pete Carroll and the NFC West champs – the only team in the playoffs with a losing record – home by a 35-24 score.
Hasselbeck, who’d engineered the upset of the New Orleans Saints in the first round with four touchdown passes, was 26 of 46 for 258 yards, much of that coming after the game was out of reach. He threw all three TD passes in the fourth quarter.
Marshawn Lynch’s rambling, tackle-breaking 67-yard TD run last week in a 41-36 upset of the Saints was the talk of the NFL. This time, he was bottled up and Seattle had only 34 yards rushing.
The Seahawks couldn’t muster the same relentless pressure they’d put on Jay Cutler when they sacked him six times in a 23-20 victory in Chicago three months ago. Their receivers had problems hanging onto Hasselbeck’s passes. And they had two players carted off the field with head injuries – tight end John Carlson in the first quarter and defensive back Marcus Trufant in the third.
Carlson caught a pair of TDs in that win oven the Saints. But after he grabbed a short pass from Hasselbeck and went 14 yards early in Sunday’s game, he was upended on the sideline by Danieal Manning and came down on his head.
The game was delayed for about five minutes as Carlson was attended to on the sideline and he was able to move his legs before he was carted off, not to return. It was a chilling circumstance for a team that had hoped to keep it close.
Trufant made a tackle on Bears’ tight end Kellen Davis with about seven minutes to go in the third quarter and couldn’t get up. The game was delayed again before he was carted off.