A recap of the Seahawks’ 41-0 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt Hasselbeck. On a day the Seahawks’ defense made its own, the nod still goes to the team’s sore-ribbed quarterback. Hasselbeck had not played since getting a rib fractured in the Week 2 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco and coach Jim Mora found him in “excruciating pain” in the locker room after a workout last Monday. But Hasselbeck not only played, he played beyond expectations.
He threw for four touchdowns – two each to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson. He scrambled – three times for 23 yards. He finished with a passer rating of 125.1, before calling it a comeback of an afternoon in the fourth quarter.
Coach Jim Mora acknowledged the obvious, without overlook the big picture.
“Matt will be the focus of many of the stories tomorrow, and it’s huge,” Mora said. “When your guy that is under center, your point guard, shows the guts and the courage that he’s shown not just this week in playing, but through the last couple of weeks trying to get back to play. He’s really shown a commitment, and it means a lot to the football team.
“But, there were other guys on this team this week that stepped up and accepted a leadership role. I asked some guys on Monday to do that, and then I stepped back, and they did it. They did it. That’s what good teams do. Good teams have strong locker rooms with good leaders, and our leaders had a good week. They did a nice job.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: There are four touchdown passes from which to chose, but none was better than Burleson’s 44-yarder. He caught the ball against Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis – who also was beaten on both TD catches by Houshmandzadeh. Burleson then ran through an attempted tackle by nickel back Tyron Brackenridge, before running away from linebacker Russell Allen on his way to the end zone.
Oh, and Burleson was playing with tender ribs – complements of a hit in the first quarter.
“It was good to see Nate make a couple of plays for touchdowns,” Mora said. “He was out for awhile. He struggled through that. Fought through it.”
Defense: When a defensive player scores, it’s special. When that defensive player is a rookie lineman, it’s extra special. That’s what Nick Reed did, returning a fumble 79 yards for the Seahawks’ final touchdown. Reed got his big chance when defensive end Lawrence Jackson forced the fumble by slapping the ball from the grasp of Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.
“That’s why I picked it up. I kind of knew I was in the open field and there weren’t a lot of people around me,” Reed said. “Usually, I’m a dive-on-the-ball guy. But I had a good feeling about this one.”
Reed’s long run is a play that will keep on giving, because any fan who attended the game can take their ticket stub to a Puget Sound area Great Clips and get a free haircut.
Special teams: What’s better than a 54-yard punt by Jon Ryan? Nate Obomanu getting down field to drop the punt returner for a 1-yard loss. It happened on the Seahawks’ first possession of the second quarter.
Former first-round draft choice Manu Tuiasosopo was at the game collecting donations for the disaster victims in American Samoa. Former Seahawks guard Edwin Bailey raised the 12th Man flag above the south end zone before kickoff. Ring of Honor defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy also was in attendance.
But the past took a backseat to the present, when fullback Owen Schmitt bloodied his face by slamming his helmet to his forehead during the pre-game introductions.
“Did you the blood?” Mora asked, reversing the roles during his post-game Q&A session. “The thing is, he was our only active fullback. … So he’s running out on the field banging his head. And I said, ‘Hey pal, if you get hurt, we don’t have anyone else.’ That’s just his enthusiasm. He talked to me. He came up and apologized.”
On the Seahawks’ eight play, left tackle Brandon Frye finished the play face down on the Qwest Field turf. He had gotten a “stinger,” and the neck/shoulder injury sidelined him for the rest of the game. Frye was starting because Walter Jones and Sean Locklear are injured.
So that left … Kyle Williams, who was signed off the practice squad on Saturday. Williams finished the game, despite spraining a knee.
“With the adrenalin and everything, it just kind of went away,” Williams said of the pain in his knee.
Honorable mention, not to mention style points, to defensive lineman Cory Redding. As he was hustling to get off the field midway through the second quarter, Redding tripped and did a somersault before finally getting to the sideline – before the ball was snapped.
Before the game, Houshmandzadeh had joked that the best way to protect Hasselbeck’s ribs was to have him take three-step drops “and throw to me.” Perhaps he wasn’t kidding. Hasselbeck’s first pass, a quick throw, when to Houshmandzadeh. Before they were done, Hasselbeck and Houshmandzadeh had hooked up five times for 77 yards and the two touchdowns.
In the locker room, Houshmandzadeh couldn’t hide his pleasure over scoring his first two TDs as a Seahawk.
“We talked about if 27 (Mathis) was going to cover me, man-to-man, please let me beat him,” Houshmandzadeh said. “And they did. He won some of the battles. But it worked.”
In addition to Frye, Burleson and Williams, safety C.J. Wallace (hamstring), cornerback Travis Fisher (hamstring or groin) and guard Mansfield Wrotto (ankle) also were injured during the game.
All are scheduled for additional tests Monday.
The Seahawks already were playing without six injured starters who were inactive for the game: fullback Justin Griffith (knee), linebacker Leroy Hill (groin), guard Rob Sims (ankle), Jones (knee), Locklear (ankle) and defensive end Patrick Kerney (groin).
YOU DON’T SAY
“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.” – Hasselbeck, of playing with a broken rib