Notebook: Vikings take down Seahawks

The Seahawks are finding out what the Super Bowl-loser jinx is all about. They were already without MVP running back Shaun Alexander when Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck went down Sunday.

Hasselbeck left the game with an injured right knee and the game quickly spiraled out of control for Seattle. The Vikings claimed a 31-13 victory, ending a string of 12 consecutive regular-season Seattle victories at Qwest Field.

The team that played in Super Bowl XL is only a memory. Seattle lost Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, receiver Joe Jurevicius and safety Marquand Manuel in free agency. They lost Alexander to a broken foot only a few games into the season. If Hasselbeck is gone for any significant period, the Seahawks might have a hard time winning the NFC West, let alone challenge for another Super Bowl.

"As you talk to the team and as you prepare the team for the possibility that you might not have your starting quarterback, you better have resiliency because there are a lot of games left to play," coach Mike Holmgren said.

The Seahawks were not immediately sure how many games Hasselbeck might miss. Hasselbeck was injured when Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson slammed into his right knee following an incomplete pass. Henderson had been pushed off-course by fullback Mack Strong, who had blocked him on the play. Hasselbeck was looking to his left when the injury occurred, making it impossible for him to brace for the collision.

Hasselbeck fell to the turf in obvious pain. He slammed his hand down on the ground in frustration. Doctors helped him off the field. Hasselbeck was able to bend his knee while doctors checked him out on the sideline. And it was probably a good sign when Hasselbeck walked into the locker room under his own power.

Still, even the thought of losing a franchise quarterback is enough to shock just about any team.

"Obviously, it was a big blow," tight end Jerramy Stevens said. "He's a Pro Bowl quarterback. He's our leader on offense, so it was a little bit of an emotional dip right there, but we picked each other up."
Backup Seneca Wallace lacks experience. The former fourth-round pick played in the second half of a meaningless game at Green Bay last season. He has appeared in various mop-up roles while playing in nine games over the last two seasons.

Wallace is a dynamic athlete who can break a long run at any time. He also has a strong arm. But without much experience, and without getting the reps a quarterback needs to build a rapport with receivers, Wallace can't be expected to enjoy success right away.

Hasselbeck had avoided serious injuries this season despite suffering 17 sacks in the first five games and two more Sunday. He has played in 24 consecutive games since missing a 24-21 victory over Arizona on Dec. 26, 2004. Swelling in his throwing elbow made Hasselbeck a last-minute scratch that day.

"We have to rally," left tackle Walter Jones said. "This happens in a season. Some players go out and if he's out for a long extent, you have to rally around the guys that we have."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Matt Hasselbeck suffered a right knee injury of unknown severity Sunday. He did not return. Hasselbeck has an MRI scheduled for Monday to determine the severity of the injury. He was able to walk into the locker room after doctors examined the knee. The team initially announced the injury as a sprain, but that was only an initial diagnosis.

--TE Jerramy Stevens took over as the primary tight end in the second half Sunday after missing the first five games to injury. He did not catch a pass, however, as the Vikings pressured QB Matt Hasselbeck and backup QB Seneca Wallace.

--WR Darrell Jackson continues to make huge plays. He had a 72-yard touchdown catch Sunday before QB Matt Hasselbeck left the game with an injury. Jackson is having a huge season.

--WR Nate Burleson was the fourth receiver Sunday, falling behind WR D.J. Hackett on the depth chart. Burleson went without a catch for the second week in a row. He has seven catches on the season.

--LB Julian Peterson collected two more sacks Sunday, giving him six in six games this season. Peterson has never had more than seven sacks in a season. He's a great fit in Seattle because the Seahawks have plenty of speed on that side of the ball. It's tough to focus on any one pass rusher.


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