SEATTLE (AP) – Matt Hasselbeck came out on top in a matchup between the quarterbacks who led the NFC's previous two Super Bowl teams.
Hasselbeck passed for 337 yards and two touchdowns, and the Seattle Seahawks took advantage of Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman's late fumble to hold on for a 30-23 victory against the Bears on Sunday.
Grossman, reinstated as the Bears starter after six games watching Brian Griese run the offense, was 24-of-37 for 266 yards – his most since he threw for 282 last January in a win against Seattle in the NFC divisional playoffs.
But after not turning the ball over all day, Grossman made the mistake that Bears followers seem to expect from him with 5:43 left.
After throws of 22 yards to Muhsin Muhammad and 23 yards – on a terrific, one-handed catch from Bernard Berrian – got the ball into Seattle territory with Chicago down 27-20, Grossman could not find an open receiver. He took off running, but Patrick Kerney caught him from behind and ripped the ball from his right hand. Darryl Tapp recovered the fumble at the Seattle 47.
The Seahawks (6-4) turned that into Josh Brown's clinching field goal from 46 yards with 3:36 remaining.
Seattle maintained its one-game lead over Arizona in the NFC West.
Grossman lost for the third time in four starts this season, but he isn't the only reason Chicago is 4-6. The Bears defense, often dominant in their run to the Super Bowl last season, allowed 30 points for the fourth time in 10 games. Chicago allowed 30 points in just three games over the previous two seasons.
Conversely, Seattle's on-an-off defense sacked Grossman five times – all in the second half.
Hasselbeck's best throw was also his most improvisational one. On 3rd-and-goal at the 4-yard line early in the third quarter, he ran toward the line to avoid defensive end Alex Brown and suddenly flipped a low pass that Nate Burleson caught inside the goal line with the receiver's legs split and his right knee on the ground. That put Seattle ahead 24-17 and left Brown punching the turf in frustration.
Hasselbeck, who completed 30 of 44 passes, set up that score by converting a 4th-and-inches with a 20-yard bootleg pass to Marcus Pollard.
It was Hasselbeck's third 300-yard passing game this season, his most since the 2004 regular season.
RB Adrian Peterson
Elaine Thompson/AP Images
Chicago appeared poised to retie the game midway through the third quarter when Berrian caught a short pass from Grossman and reached for what was initially ruled a first down. Seattle challenged the spot, and a replay review reversed the ruling, leaving the Bears with a 4th-and-1. Eschewing a 43-yard field goal, Chicago sent Benson up the middle behind fullback Jason McKie, but Lofa Tatupu leaped over a blocker and stuffed Cedric Benson for no gain.
Chicago took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter behind Benson, who gained 89 yards on 11 carries. He burst for 43 yards for a touchdown on his first run, after Seattle's blooped opening kickoff to avoid returner extraordinaire Devin Hester backfired with a 27-yard run back by Garrett Wolfe.
Following Josh Brown's missed 44-yard field goal at the end the Seahawks' opening drive, Benson's second carry went for 20 yards, to the Seattle 15. That put Robbie Gould in place for a 31-yard field goal.
Benson's longest run among his first 178 carries of the season was 16 yards.
The Seahawks answered with two touchdowns to take the lead.
Hasselbeck, working out of shotgun formation to beat Chicago's blitzes, found D.J. Hackett running inside Charles Tillman, a target all day, for a 19-yard touchdown catch. Seattle threw on 15 of its first 17 plays, continuing coach Mike Holmgren's pledge to eschew much of a stalled running game for more wide-open passing.
Grossman was 12-of-16 passing and Seattle had 227 total yards in the opening half, which ended tied at 17.
All of that plus much more in the January issue of ...
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