I'll admit it: I'm a Matt Hasselbeck fanboy. I bought his jersey in the summer of 2001, before he had even played a game for the Seahawks. At the time, it was a statement of blind faith that this kid from BC could pull Seattle out of the awful quarterbacking doldrums of the Stouffer-McGwire-Gelbaugh-Mirer-Friez-Kitna era (Warren Moon's 1+ year of competent-to-great play was the exception to this depressing rule). I was at his first start in Cleveland in '01, and though I endured taunts of "Hasseldick" and "Asselbeck" for three hours, and though Beck didn't actually play all that well, Seattle's 9-6 victory felt like vindication.
Then Beck played badly enough that first year that he lost his job to Trent Dilfer, who I embraced like every other Twelve back in the Winter of 01-02. Thankfully, we were proven wrong about Hass when he started putting up eye-popping numbers late in 2002, and from there he led Seattle into a Golden Age of pro football success. Over the past decade, he's earned a spot in the Seahawks Ring of Honor, and last Saturday he proved his detractors wrong once again with perhaps the best game of his underrated career. He is my favorite current Seahawk by a wide margin, and 2nd only to Dave Krieg as my all-time favorite Hawk. Here are the 10 best games of his career- Enjoy!
10. October 27, 2002: Seahawks 17, Cowboys 14
The numbers don't look good at all, but no discussion of Hasselbeck's greatest games could leave this one out... The Hawks were 1-5, and might as well have had "opponent" emblazoned on their unis because Emmitt Smith was going for the all-time rushing record.
Yeah, his dancing ass got the record; and Trent Dilfer left with a torn Achilles tendon, forcing deposed starter Hasselbeck back into action. In my mind, this has always been the genesis of Beck's successful career. After Darrell Jackson was felled by a vicious, dirty hit Hass reportedly growled in the huddle afterwards:
"NOBODY FUCKING DOES THAT TO US!"
Beck led the Hawks to the winning FG, somewhat spoiling Emmitt's party and unofficially rebooting his Seattle career. Bite shit, Dallas.
9. December 12, 2004: Seahawks 27, Vikings 23
Hass tends to come up big in games the Seahawks desperately need to win, and very few people outside of South Alaska thought Seattle would keep its playoff hopes alive with a victory against the talented Vikings. This triumph was a rare moment of joy in a frustrating 2004 season.
8. December 9, 2007: Seahawks 42, Cardinals 21
The best performance of his 2007 Pro Bowl campaign... Needing a win to clinch a 4th consecutive NFC West title, The Bald One lit up Arizona with four touchdown bombs. Future Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner was no match for #8 that day.
7. December 27, 2003: Seahawks 24, 49ers 17
Seattle needed a win to stay alive for a wild-card berth, and Beck led a stirring resurrection from a 14-0 deficit and marshaled Seattle into the playoffs (which they've only missed twice since).
6. October 9, 2005: Seahawks 37, Rams 31
5. October 15, 2006: Seahawks 30, Rams 28
In consecutive seasons, Hasselbeck led Seattle to heart-stoppingly thrilling wins against the detestable St. Louis Rams, including an improbable 2nd half comeback in 2006. The highlight? Beck's perfect 42-yard lazer to Darrell Jackson between three defenders.
4. December 29, 2002: Seahawks 31, Chargers 28 (OT)
The high-water mark in terms of yards passing for Hass, but it's this high on the list because of the toughness Beck showed in leading the Hawks back from a 28-14 4th quarter deficit. This is also the game where Matt supposedly popped up after a late hit by noted dirtbag Rodney Harrison and told him that he "hit like a fucking fa@@ot." While I can't say I agree with Matt's choice of words, the sentiment was spot-on. Brass balls, y'all.
3. January 22, 2006: NFC Championship Game (Seahawks 34, Panthers 14)
Matt came up large in the biggest game ever played in Seattle, shredding the Panthers D while showing off his sound decision-making, accuracy and mobility. This is where #8 took his first steps toward legendary status.
2. January 14, 2006: NFC Divisional Playoff (Seahawks 20, Redskins 10)
A week earlier, things looked bleak after Shaun Alexander left the game with a concussion. It looked like Seattle's run of playoff futility might reach 21 seasons, but Hass stepped up with an efficient performance, including a spectacular TD strike to D-Jack and a rushing touchdown where he beat Ex-Hawk Shawn Springs to the pylon.
With a huge number of football observers and even Seahawks fans writing rough drafts of his professional obituary, Matthew played the game of his life. He had never throw more than 2 TDs in a playoff game- Last week, he threw FOUR. He led Seattle back from a 10-point deficit against the World Champions, avoided the big turnovers that have plauged him in recent years, and probably earned millions of extra dollars on his next contract (which will hopefully be with Seattle). If you were going to put ONE game from Beck's career in a time capsule for the Seahawks fans of 2060, this would be it.
Would three more games like this be too much to ask of the old guy? What do you think, sirs?
Don't forget to check out my home blog: Dave Krieg's Strike Beard