January 7, 2011 in Sports

For the record, Seahawks don’t care

Danny O'Neill Seattle Times
 
Elaine Thompson photo

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck throws during NFL football practice Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011, in Renton, Wash. The Seahawks host the New Orleans Saints on Saturday in an NFC wild card game.
(Full-size photo)

RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks have more losses than any playoff team in NFL history, their offense ranked No. 28 out of 32 teams in yards gained, their defense was No. 27 in yards allowed.

Just don’t say they’re sorry. Not even a little bit.

Matt Hasselbeck made that clear following Thursday’s practice. After coach Pete Carroll announced Hasselbeck would start Saturday’s playoff game against New Orleans, the Seahawks quarterback was asked if any apologies were in order for being in the playoffs with a losing record.

“Apologize to who?” Hasselbeck said. “No, I’ve got nothing to apologize for.”

So what’s it like being a 7-9 team preparing to play the defending world champions, then?

“We’re 0-0 right now,” he said. “That’s where my head’s at.”

Consider that the first sign that this team isn’t just happy to be here. There’s a little bit of defiance inspired by the reality that the Seahawks are the largest home underdog ever in the NFL playoffs. The 11-5 Saints are favored by 10-1/2 points. That’s pretty concrete proof this is a game not many people outside the Seahawks’ locker room think they have a chance of winning.

“Good,” Hasselbeck said.

But right about now, people around town are beginning to talk themselves into the idea that the Seahawks are better than a half-court longshot.

After all, the Saints are without two of their best running backs, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory, both placed on injured reserve earlier this week. Safety Malcolm Jenkins and tight end Jimmy Graham have yet to practice this week. The Saints have to fly more than 2,000 miles to play an outdoor game, and the franchise has never won a true road playoff game.

Throw in the fact that Hasselbeck threw for more yards against this Saints defense than any other quarterback this season, and it’s almost enough to make you forget the fact that Seattle was 7-9.

But the Seahawks are not only a 7-9 team, they’re a statistically poor 7-9 team. They allowed 97 more points than they scored, lost nine games by 15 or more points, and 2-14 Carolina was the only team in the league to suffer more double-digit losses than Seattle.

And that game Seattle played in New Orleans on Nov. 21, when Hasselbeck passed for a season-high 366 yards? Don’t forget the Saints scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions and quarterback Drew Brees was 9-for-10 passing on third down.

So there’s a reason the Seahawks come into this game given little more than a puncher’s chance. But with nothing to lose, the Seahawks can come out swinging, right? With no expectations, will the Seahawks be loose?

“That would mean that we wouldn’t play loose if the pressure was on us,” Carroll said. “I don’t see it that way. We’re going to go play the way we can play. We’re not going to hold anything back.”

And even with odds stacked up to historic heights, Carroll won’t be telling his team this is an opportunity to shock the world.

“There’s never, ever a thought of that,” he said.

Carroll has spent this season trying to make the Seahawks focus on what they’re going to do, not who they’re going to do it against.

“We really don’t focus on who we’re playing,” Hasselbeck said. “Actually, it’s kind of funny because Pete always says, ‘Hey, I don’t care who they bring in here – they could bring in the world champs.’”

On Saturday, that’s exactly who’s coming.


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