Hasselbeck has a lot to Prove

Matt Hasselbeck passed for 303 yards and had a 104.0 rating last week against the Rams. He could have finished with close to 500 yards passing, but the Seahawks dropped several passes, including a potential 73-yard score.

This is a far cry from the Matt Hasselbeck we saw earlier in the season. So much so that Hank Bauer, the color commentator for Chargers games on KFMB 760-AM, has had a change of heart from what he saw in that preseason game until now.

Back in preseason Bauer was adamant when he claimed, "He sucks!" Today he will not go back on those sentiments, because at the time it was true.

"He did suck in that game and I'll never go back on that," Bauer said. "There was not a person out there who watched that game and didn't think the same thing."

"People either fight back and grow and become better or they collapse," Bauer said. "This guy has gotten better."

Hasselbeck has gotten better. The monumental changes are seen in his stats and Seattle's improvement on the field. He's extremely accurate, having completed 63.1% of his passes (231 of 366) for 2,626 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Hasselbeck has thrown for 1,613 yards in Seattle's past five games. That's a franchise record for a five-game stretch. The Seahawks are averaging an NFL-best 452.8 yards in the past five weeks. Now he faces a Chargers team that has surrendered 300 or more yards passing in seven games, and Sunday they will face Hasselbeck who has surpassed that mark in three consecutive games.

"Things turned bad on me quick. It was a tough situation. I can't lie. But at the same time I just decided I needed to improve as a player and be ready the next time I got a chance to play."

"Matt has got a second chance at this thing, and he really is playing some better football right now," Holmgren said. "Given this second chance, he's really made the most of it. He's answered questions. I don't think it would have been the last chance Matt got (in the NFL), but it certainly helps his confidence, and it helps his teammates and their belief in him. He's made the most of it. I think he's shown everybody he can play."

"But the thing that's important is that I helped the team win a game this weekend. That's all that I can control, and that's all I need to control." Hasselbeck added.

Hasselbeck signed a five-year deal before the 2001 season that could ultimately be worth as much as $24 million. The contract is performance-based, and as it pertains to this season, Hasselbeck needs to finish in the NFL's top 15 in three quarterback categories to earn more money.

The categories are quarterback rating, completion percentage and touchdown passes Hasselbeck is sixth in quarterback rating, fifth in completion percentage and 25th in touchdown passes among quarterbacks with a minimum of 222 attempts.

Sunday's game at San Diego will be important, because if Hasselbeck drops out of the top 15 in all of the categories, he will have a $1 million contract for the 2003 season, or $600,000 less than his salary this season.

If Hasselbeck finishes from 11th to 15th in any category, he will get $2.5 million in 2003. A sixth to 10th place finish affords the Seahawks options of a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, a two-year deal with salaries of $4 million in 2003 and $5 million in 2004, and a three-year contract with salaries of $6 million (2003), $5 million (2004) and $5.5 million (2005).

It's safe to say, Hasselbeck has a lot to play for and is proving his worth more and more as the weeks go by. This Sunday he wants a win. The Chargers will have to stop this hot quarterback to secure their first winning season since 1995.

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