Back on Oct. 1, in a game that was billed as a tilt between the top two teams in the NFC, the Bears hammered their guests from the Emerald City 37-6 before a prime time audience. Chicago's suffocating defense held Seattle to just 230 yards of total offense and sacked quarterback Matt Hasselbeck five times. Tommie Harris was credited with two of those QB takedowns and earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
When asked what went wrong back in Week 4, three factors were right on the tip of Hasselbeck's tongue.
"Everything really," Hasselbeck said on conference call at Halas Hall on Wednesday. "One thing we can't do is get down early on a team like that, and that's what he did. That wasn't the game plan. One thing we can't do is turn the ball over, which we did. That was not the game plan. The other thing that we needed to do going into that game was block probably the best defensive tackle in the game, Tommie Harris, and we didn't do that either. Those three things right there were probably the most glaring."
Seattle had a disappointing season but still managed to capture the NFC West and the No. 4 seed in the postseason with a 9-7 record. Chicago, on the other hand, is in the same position as the Seahawks were a year ago. That being a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
After taking a week off to get away from football a little bit and rest some key players, the Bears still have to erase the memory of last season's playoff failure at the hands of the Carolina Panthers. Seattle was fortunate to escape the wild card round and needed Tony Romo to drop the snap on a potential game-winning field goal in order to beat the Cowboys at home 21-20. Now they have to travel to Chicago and must emerge victorious if they have any hopes of making it back to the Super Bowl.
There are certain advantages and disadvantages facing a team for the second time - especially in the playoffs - but Hasselbeck doesn't feel any more prepared than usual.
"As a quarterback," Hasselbeck described, "I don't know if it's as big of a deal as it is for, say, an offensive lineman or a wide receiver or a cornerback. You know the guy that you're going to play against pretty much the whole day. For me, I don't know if that's the same. This is as hard of a deal as I'm going to have all year going against Lovie Smith and [defensive coordinator Ron] Rivera. I mean those are probably two of the best defensive minds in the game right now, and obviously this teams is playing that way."
Fortunately for Hasselback, he will not be facing the same defensive personnel he saw back in October. Harris is on injured reserve with a torn hamstring, and Mike Brown, the captain of the secondary, has been out of the lineup since Week 6. The Bears may have finished 5th in the NFL in total defense, but they showed some chinks in the armor down the stretch and appear to have lost their mojo.
The Bears may be playing without two of their standouts on defense, but Hasselbeck isn't foolish enough to believe that he'll have it any easier on game day.
"Those guys (Harris and Brown) obviously are great, great players," he said. "They're Pro Bowl players. Losing a guy like Tommie Harris is very, very tough. They're good still, though."
When asked to compare Seattle's 2006 season to their Super Bowl team from a year ago, Hasselbeck doesn't see many similarities.
"Very different teams," he said. "Very, very different teams. Different situations. Last year's team, everything seemed to go right for us. I think if you look around [at] what the Chargers are doing right now or maybe what the New Orleans Saints are doing right now, it felt like just everything kind of went our way. This year has been very, very different. We've had to overcome a lot of adversity, a lot of injuries, a lot of kind of just weird stuff. And we're trying. We're doing the best that we can, but it's getting tougher and tougher."
With snow potentially in the forecast for Sunday's game, Hasselbeck may have to overcome the elements in addition to the Bears defense.