Anxious in Seattle
Q: Is it tough to play in Philadelphia on Monday night and then fly across the country to play in a short week? Hasselbeck: I don't really think it's an issue. I think it would be tough if we were coming off a huge, emotional overtime win, but the reality is that, at least on offense, we didn't play that much. Our receivers hardly played at all, and a lot of guys were out of the game early. They played about a half of football, and even then with our defense scoring all those touchdowns, our offense really wasn't on the field. In some respects, we had a great week of practice and never really got to play the game that we were prepared to play. I think some of us are just anxious to get back on the football field. Q: How much are you talking about home field advantage in the playoffs? Hasselbeck: For the first time, we're talking about that. We're talking more about getting a first-round bye, but I think going hand-in-hand with that is home-field advantage. Our goal all year was to win our division, and we've done that. Now that we've accomplished that goal, our next goal is to get a first-round bye. With that comes home-field advantage. The way in accomplishing that goal is to win every game you play. This is just the next game that we're playing, and we've got to go out and win it. Q: With Shaun Alexander so close to the touchdown record, is there a fear that you become predictable when you get close to the goal line? Hasselbeck: I think one of the great things that Coach Holmgren says in situations like that is, ‘I don't care if they know what play we're going to run, and we're just going to do it better than them.' He doesn't care, and I think it's a pretty strong message to our players that how you execute is more important than what they do. That's how we approach it, and we've been very successful down there and in all areas of our offense. Shaun Alexander has been the most productive goal-line back in the NFL in the last few years, so I don't see a need to change anything. Q: As a QB, are you excited about getting Darrell Jackson back in the lineup? Hasselbeck: That will be huge for us. We're all excited about that. We thought he would maybe be back last week, and it didn't really happen that way. The guys that have filled in for him have done a great job, but having Darrell back will be great. Q: Do you vary your plan after facing the 49ers three weeks ago? Hasselbeck: There are wrinkles here and there. I feel like this team knows us really well. I feel like their coaching staff has a pretty good familiarity with some of our coaches and some of our stuff. Our coaches know that, so we've got some wrinkles in and some things to take advantage of that familiarity. A lot of times you could say, ‘We expect them to do this…' We've got the opportunity to take advantage of that. It's not uncommon in this league. There were a lot of things last week that Philly's coaching staff knew we liked to do, and we used that to our advantage also. Q: Did it help you to not live up to expectations a few years ago and now be able to fly under the radar for much of the season? Hasselbeck: I've said this before, but I think last year with people picking us for the Super Bowl was pretty silly. We had never won our division ever. We'd never won a playoff game. I think people just wanted to look real smart, like no one picked Carolina the year before so they were going to pick a team that nobody would expect. People guessed and picked us. They had no good reason for doing it. It's not like they knew anything about our team. They said, ‘Let's see. There's Mike Holmgren, he's won a Super Bowl. Pick him.' Maybe we got a little distracted with that last year and maybe we were talking about that a little bit more than we should have, but I don't think that was ever a reality. To think that we were favorites or expected to do that was pretty ridiculous. Last year, I thought we had a good season. We won our division for the first time since I've been here. We lost two very, very close games to the St. Louis Rams. It was a learning experience for our team. I think we grew a lot, but we were not ready to make it to a Super Bowl or win a Super Bowl last year. Last year was what it was. This year, I would say it's a totally different scenario. Even though our record is very good and we've won our division early in the season, no one expects us to go. That's fine too. I think the learning point for us as a team is to control what you can control, focus on what you need to focus on and don't worry about the other stuff. Q: Do you feel that this team was built for this to be your time? Hasselbeck: I don't know. I know that we can make it a lot easier on ourselves if wee don't have to play three playoff games to get to the Super Bowl. We can make it a lot easier if those playoff games that we do play are at home. Those are the things that we can control. The terms of if we're good enough to get it done, I don't know. hat's a question that remains to be answered, but I don't think any of us really knows for sure. A lot goes into that. How healthy can we stay? How well do we play and who do we play? Q: What things did the 49ers defense do well the last time you met? Hasselbeck: They did a lot of things well. Obviously in any game, both teams do well and both teams have mistakes. ne of the best things they did was keep us off the field. They did a very good job on third down. We really were not very efficient on third down. I thought they did a great job. They made plays. When the ball was in the air, and we had a chance or they had a chance, they made plays. They had some young guys in the secondary that made some really nice plays. I can think of a couple of times when Julian Peterson was downfield in the middle of the field and our guys had a chance and he had a chance. He'd break up the ball. That's going to happen. It was a tough blow for them. The last time we played them, I think Parrish had just gotten hurt. Bryant young got hurt early in the game. That's a devastating blow for any defense. With the injuries that San Francisco had already had, I give those guys a lot of credit for how hard they played and how well they played. They just made it tough on us. They forced us to kick field goals instead of touchdowns sometimes and took us out of some of those things that we like to do. I think that this game here will be very much the same kind of game. Maybe a little bit in our favor because it's at home, but other than that it's going to be a dogfight. Q: What is it about Shaun Alexander that makes him the best running back in the League in your opinion? Hasselbeck: To be honest, I don't know a whole lot about LaDanian. He's in the AFC and we don't see him. I do know a lot about Shaun Alexander. He's a great teammate. He's worked really hard this year. He seems to have a nose for the end zone and always come up with six points somehow, someway. He runs hard. He's very much like a Franco Harris. He does things you don't expect. He breaks tackles when you don't expect him to break them, he runs over people when you don't expect him to do that and he outruns safeties and DBs when you don't necessarily expect him to do that either. He's definitely a huge weapon for us an obviously one of the best backs in the NFL. Q: With Keith Lewis making his first start at safety, do you want to test him out right away? Hasselbeck: To some extent. You leave that to the coaches a little bit. We're fully aware of how young their secondary is. It's hard not to be. t's just the situation that they're in. I think Spencer is a second-year guy, the rookie, Derrick Johnson out of Washington, is a rookie, Keith Lewis is a second-year guy, Adams is a second-year guy, Ben Emanuel is a rookie and Thornton is a first-year guy. It's just the nature of where they are right now. I think about the first time we played them. I get my depth chart early in the week, and I was saying that these guys were young. Then I popped in the Indianapolis film, and those guys did a pretty good job against Indianapolis. Against Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, I thought they did a very good job. They didn't play like young guys; they didn't play like rookies. Are you aware of it? Yeah, you're aware of it, but at the same time, these guys are in the National Football League. They're well-coached and they play hard. That doesn't make it any easier. On Sunday, those guys are going to play well. The guys in front of them are playing really well, in terms of Peterson and Carter, Bryant Young when he's in there. It makes the guys' behind them job a little easier when you have those guys playing so well. I think it will be very similar to the first time we played. Q: Are you licking your chops? Hasselbeck: I'm really not. Honestly, that's what people might expect, but as anyone can tell in the first game, that's not what happened. That first game we played against San Fran, I think people said, ‘Well they're young in the secondary. They're banged up. Parrish isn't in there. Plummer's not in there. Rumph isn't in there. They're going to throw for a ton of yards.' That's not really what happened. What happened was they gave us all we could handle. Carter, BY, Peterson had big games. The linebackers had big games. It was a tough game and it could have gone either way. When you watch the film, we probably should have lost that game. I think these guys play really well in their scheme, and they're well-coached. The coverages and all the things they do can be quite confusing for an offense, so we're going to have to play their best. Q: Do you look to take advantage of the fact that Keith Lewis has to run down on special teams and then go play safety? Is that something you're aware of? Hasselbeck: No, but that's a really good point. I never thought of that. If he runs down to cover a kick, he's probably out of breath. I will go and bring that up to the coaches as soon as I get off the phone.
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