Road remains real challenge for Hasselbeck
By Sean jensen and neil Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com January 14, 2011 11:38PM
“He’s still really good,” Pisa Tinoisamoa said of Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8). | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 16, 2011 12:23AM
The Seattle Seahawks’ Matt Hasselbeck has five postseason victories, more than the other three remaining NFC quarterbacks combined.
But for all of his success — most notably leading the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL — Hasselbeck hasn’t gotten over one big hump.
He hasn’t won a postseason game on the road.
All five of his victories have come at home, and all five of his losses have come on the road. And he’s had some forgettable performances.
In those five games away from Seattle, including the Super Bowl in Detroit, Hasselbeck was 88-for-160 (55 percent) for 967 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, according to STATS. His passer rating was 71.5.
Hasselbeck was 18-for-33 for 195 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Bears in January 2007.
But Hasselbeck, 35, still has the Bears’ respect.
“His experience; his decision-making,” Bears linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. “That’s how I judge my quarterbacks, and he’s still really good.”
In a 23-20 victory at Soldier Field in October, Hasselbeck didn’t make any mistakes, completing 25 of 40 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
“He really was locked in and in the zone,” Tinoisamoa said. “He was making some awesome tosses.”
The key, then, is to “beat him to the punch.
“You’re not going to fool him too much,” Tinoisamoa said, “but if you get a faster break, then you can throw off his rhythm.”
There are benefits to being a veteran team like the Bears, according to linebacker Brian Urlacher.
“We don’t ever get too rattled,” Urlacher said. “Plus, our coaching staff has been around for a while. There are some exciting times, [but] we stay pretty even-keel most of the time.”
Defensive end Israel Idonije hopes experience pays off in big games, especially during the postseason.
“You want guys who know what it’s about and know how critical playing sound football is,” he said. “You don’t need a coach breathing down your neck because guys are accountable and know what needs to be done. It’s critical.”
Even though it has taken the Bears four years to return to the playoffs, Urlacher doesn’t see the window of opportunity closing.
“Not at all,” the 32-year-old said. “If we get a couple of guys back, we’re set up for a while if you look at our team depthwise.”
Another tough TE
Seahawks tight end John Carlson caught two touchdown passes in the team’s upset of the New Orleans Saints last Saturday. Though the former Notre Dame standout holds single-season team records for tight ends in catches (55 in 2008), yards (627 in ’08) and touchdowns (seven in 2009), Urlacher didn’t sound overly concerned about the matchup.
“We’ve done a good job on most tight ends pretty much all season long,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be any different on Sunday.”
Something to prove
Not only does linebacker Lance Briggs agree that the Seahawks have little to lose Sunday at Soldier Field, but he said owning the worst regular-season record (7-9) of any playoff team in NFL history could give them plenty of inspiration.
“It makes them want to prove more, to prove that they do belong, make history, do something that someone hasn’t done,” Briggs said.
“They started it off with the Saints and want to continue it with the Bears — which they won’t do. That’s just one of those things. It gives them more motivation.”
No rooting interest
The Green Bay Packers must beat the Atlanta Falcons tonight if the Bears are to host the NFC Championship Game. If the Falcons and Bears win, the Bears will travel to the Georgia Dome.
“You’d love to play another playoff game at home — but if we have to go on the road, you might as well go inside to play,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We’re a fast football team, so it doesn’t really matter.’’