SEATTLE – Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had a rocky return to the Pacific Northwest, throwing a pair of interceptions in his limited appearance, while Seattle rookie Russell Wilson dazzled with touchdowns running and throwing in the second half to help the Seahawks open the preseason with a 27-17 victory Saturday night.
Hasselbeck, who was Seattle’s anchor at quarterback for nearly a decade, saw the first play of the game – a pass intended for Nate Washington – deflected into the arms of Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and returned 23 yards for a touchdown. Seattle went ahead 17-3 on the first drive of the second half when Wilson, in a three-way competition for the Seahawks’ QB job, threw a 39-yard scoring pass to Braylon Edwards. Wilson added a 32-yard bootleg touchdown run with 1:51 left to cap an impressive debut.
Matt Flynn got the start at quarterback for Seattle while incumbent Tarvaris Jackson was left to watch this week. Coach Pete Carroll has given no indication how the rotation will be next week.
Hasselbeck barely had time to be acknowledged by the Seattle crowd before watching the Seahawks take the lead. He was adorned with cheers and signs before the game with plenty of fans still donning No. 8 Seahawks jerseys. Hasselbeck said he got choked up speaking to his teammates before the game.
“The reception I got from the fans in both the pregame and during the game was humbling,” Hasselbeck said.
Hasselbeck threw a quick out for Washington on the first play from scrimmage. But Hasselbeck’s throw was poor – low and too far behind Washington. The receiver tried to pull in the pass, but instead knocked it into the arm, off the arm of safety Earl Thomas and into Browner’s arms. The 23-yard interception return gave Seattle a 7-0 lead 9 seconds into the preseason.
“It was kind of a freak thing,” Hasselbeck said. “It reminded me of my first pass the last time I was in this stadium which was intercepted against the Saints. … It was disappointing it started that way, not at all how I envisioned it.”
That came in the NFC wild-card game when Hasselbeck was still the franchise quarterback and he engineered an upset of the defending Super Bowl champions when Seattle got into the playoffs with a losing record. Seattle opted to go a different direction at quarterback before the start of the 2011 season and Hasselbeck ended up in Tennessee, where he finds himself this preseason battling Jake Locker for the starting job.
In terms of appearance Locker, who played his college ball across town at Washington, got the better, albeit against the Seahawks’ backups.
Hasselbeck ended up with 15 snaps, right about what Tennessee coach Mike Munchak hoped. He finished 5 of 9 passes for 45 yards and two interceptions.
Locker got 18 snaps, playing the rest of the first half before giving way to Rusty Smith in the second half. Locker completed 7 of 13 passes for 80 yards – including a couple of drops – and led the Titans to Rob Bironas’ 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the first half.
Flynn played the entire first half but was highly conservative with his throws. His final throw was the only one to hit the ground despite hitting Anthony McCoy in the stomach. He finished 11 of 13 for 71 yards, but never challenged the Titans’ secondary downfield.
Seahawks 27, Titans 17
Sea—Browner 23 interception return (Hauschka kick)
Sea—FG Hauschka 41
Ten—FG Bironas 32
Sea—Edwards 39 pass from Wilson (Hauschka kick)
Ten—Reynaud 21 run (Bironas kick)
Ten—Reynaud 85 punt return (Bironas kick)
Sea—FG Hauschka 40
Sea—Wilson 32 run (Hauschka kick)
|Total Net Yards||305||321|
|Time of Possession||27:44||32:16|
RUSHING—Tennessee, Reynaud 5-29, Ringer 4-22, Harper 5-15, Donaldson 2-13, C.Johnson 5-8, Stephens 1-7, L.Hawkins 1-(minus 9). Seattle, Wilson 3-59, Washington 5-26, Turbin 10-24, Lumpkin 6-23, Sutton 2-3, Flynn 1-0.
PASSING—Tennessee, Locker 7-13-0-80, R.Smith 7-10-0-76, Hasselbeck 5-9-2-45, Stephens 4-5-0-24. Seattle, Wilson 12-16-1-124, Flynn 11-13-1-71.
RECEIVING—Tennessee, Wright 3-47, Donaldson 3-29, Washington 3-24, Thompson 3-15, Mariani 2-52, Cook 2-21, Kirkendoll 2-4, Aguilar 1-12, Ringer 1-12, L.Hawkins 1-6, Williams 1-6, Reynaud 1-(minus 3). Seattle, Turbin 3-9, Edwards 2-51, Miller 2-23, Lumpkin 2-22, Martin 2-21, A.McCoy 2-13, McGrath 2-13, Tate 2-13, Taua 2-6, Butler 1-10, Sutton 1-5, Washington 1-5, Robinson 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Tennessee, Batson 36 (WR).