He Wants the Ball, But Can He Win?

He Wants the Ball, But Can He Win?

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck knew the questions were coming even before they were asked. So after the Seahawks defeated the Washington Redskins, 35-14, on Saturday afternoon, Hasselbeck approached the podium at his postgame press conference and announced, "We want the ball and we're going to score."

It was in reference to the last time the Seahawks played the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, which is what the Seahawks will face Saturday.

In that game, with the scored tied at 27 and going into overtime, Hasselbeck won the coin toss and uttered those words on national television. He then promptly threw an interception to Packers cornerback Al Harris, which Harris returned for a touchdown, ending the game and Seattle's season with a 33-27 defeat.

Hasselbeck, of course, remembers that play, and the criticism he received after it for his brash - and ultimately foolish - declaration. But he gets a chance at redemption on Saturday, when he plays against the team that drafted him with a sixth-round pick before trading him to Seattle.

"Green Bay, Wisconsin, is a special place to me," Hasselbeck said. "I think it is the greatest venue in all of sports. If it wasn't for that organization, I would never have gotten a chance. I would be wearing a suit to work every day. They helped me to fulfill my dream of playing in the NFL."

How well Hasselbeck, who still has a sore wrist from falling on it the last game of the regular season, fares at Lambeau this year remains to be seen.

In that last game, Shaun Alexander ran for three touchdowns and Seattle's offense had a more balanced flavor. Now, the Seahawks have a pass-first offense that relies on the arm of Hasselbeck and his timing with his receivers.

Weather forecasts call for a high of 24 degrees with the possibility of snow, which certainly could have an affect on Seattle's aerial attack. The last time the Seahawks faced inclement weather, in Carolina in

Week 14, Hasselbeck had a poor day and Seattle dropped a decision to the struggling Panthers.

"We know the challenges -- better than most," said coach Mike Holmgren, who returns to the place where he won a Super Bowl and has a street named after him. "So now we have to prepare well, go back there and see if we can win another game."

Of course, behind Brett Favre the Packers run an offense that is similar to Seattle's. It too can be adversely affected by the weather, as evidenced in their 35-7 loss in Chicago in Week 15. The only advantage Green Bay has is that it is acclimated to the poor conditions.

However, Seattle also has two members of its team that have won the only two playoff games ever taken from the Packers at Lambeau.

In 2005, safety Brian Russell was on the Minnesota Vikings team that took a 31-17 decision from the Packers. And in 2002, Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney was a member of the Atlanta Falcons team that handed Green Bay its first-ever home playoff defeat, a 27-7 Michael Vick-led decision.

"That was certainly a great win for us back in Atlanta," Kerney said. "It was snowing, Lambeau field, it's what you play football for. It's going to be a high-energy environment next week. I'm sure it will be nice and cold, and it's that gritty, late-season football that you love."

PLAYER NOTES

--WR Deion Branch did not play in Saturday's game because of a calf strain. Branch said he lobbied the coaches before the game to allow him to play but they wanted to be safe. Branch said he will be ready to play this week, only the third time this season that Branch and WR D.J. Hackett will have been together this season.

--DT Rocky Bernard started Saturday's game, but he did not get his regular amount of playing time. Bernard, who missed the last two regular-season games with a sore groin, was substituted for more often by Craig Terrill and Howard Green.

--CB Marcus Trufant's 78-yard interception return in the fourth quarter that sealed Seattle's victory was the longest postseason interception return in franchise history.

--WR Bobby Engram had four receptions in Saturday's game, allowing him to set the franchise record for postseason catches with 29. Darrell Jackson had the previous record of 26.

--OT Walter Jones started his franchise record ninth postseason game.

--With two field goals and three extra points, PK Josh Brown added to his club record of 59 postseason points and 14 career field goals. He also tied a club record with a 50-yard field goal.

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