Hasselbeck: 'I really found the balance'
Originally a sixth-round pick of the Packers before being traded to Seattle in 2001, Hasselbeck completed 59.9 percent of his passes with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 12-to-17 and a passer rating of 73.2, but all was forgiven when he fired four TDs in a 41-36 upset of the Saints to move on to Sunday's divisional round.
Not running a classic West Coast offense anymore, as he did seemingly forever with both Green Bay and Seattle, it took a while for Hasselbeck to adjust to first-year coach Pete Carroll and the things he was preaching on the offensive side of the ball.
"I didn't play very aggressive early on in the year," Hasselbeck said Wednesday via conference call at Halas Hall. "I think I was playing a little tentative, a little too careful at times, and there have been times when I have been not careful enough. As a quarterback, there is a real fine line that you've got to walk with protecting the ball and playing defensive, instead of offensive or playing not to lose instead of to win."
But the former Boston College Eagle was terrific when he defeated the Bears 23-20 at Soldier Field back in Week 6, completing 25 of his 40 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions, plus he wasn't sacked.
"I think looking back to the Chicago game," he said, "that was the first game where I really found the balance that Pete is looking for in terms of being aggressive, playing football but being smart, protecting the football, holding it in high regard and taking that responsibility seriously. At the same time, you don't want to drive a car like a student driver. You want to drive it like someone who knows what the heck is going on and you feel confident in what you're doing without being reckless. That was the first game that I was able to do that in a full-game situation."
The Bears had an especially tough time putting pressure on Hasselbeck because he was getting the Seahawks in and out of the huddle so quickly and snapping the ball with plenty of time left on the play clock, although Chicago should be better prepared for that tactic now.
Carroll: Lynch 'had a physical nature'
This year, Seattle finished 31st in rushing offense at a paltry 89.0 yards per game and averaged an unacceptable 3.7 yards per carry as a team, struggling with the likes of Julius Jones, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington in the backfield, with Jones being cut in October and both Forsett and Washington better equipped to be secondary ball carriers.
Then the team traded a fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft and a conditional pick in 2012 to Buffalo for Marshawn Lynch, and while he never topped 100 yards rushing in any of the 12 games he played for the Seahawks, he produced 131 yards on the ground in last week's stunner over New Orleans and sealed the win with a 67-yard touchdown run for the ages.
"Marshawn has always been a really good football player," said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who recruited Lynch as a prepster when he was still the head coach at USC, "and he had a dynamic run there to seal the game for us last week, obviously. But he's been a good player for us all along. When he got here (Oct. 5), it was really the first game was back there when we played [the Bears] in Chicago, and even though he didn't gain a lot of yards in that game, we could see that he had a physical nature to him and added something that we didn't have on the offense."
Lynch only picked up 44 yards on 17 carries against the Bears in Week 6, but he did manage to score a touchdown and also caught three passes out of the backfield.
"When we've run the ball well, he's been right in the middle of it," Carroll said. "He's a nice football player, we're glad to have him and certainly needed every inch of that run last week to get that win."
While Lynch had the benefit last week of playing the 16th-ranked rush defense at home, this week he'll go up against the No. 2 rush defense on the road.
John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
Conference Call: Hasselbeck, Carroll
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