Hitting the quarter pole of the season at 1-3 was not how the Seahawks or their fans saw this year unfolding. Visions of last year’s 4-12 finish flashed all too familiarly close while watching the first four games. 2005 seemed so long ago.
As fans, we all have our little rituals; things that we sincerely believe play a part in whether our team wins or loses. For me, and my group, we like to leave our houses at the same time, hit the first train leaving Tacoma, leave the train and go directly to a Seattle bar that has a ton of TVs showing all the early games while we partake in the amber nectar. Usually the bar is packed and we have to force our way through crowds of people to get to the bar.
For this game, the place was only a little over half full. We strolled in and were shocked to see open aisles and more importantly, an open space by the bar. More shocking was the lack of a roar in the place. People seemed to be hunkered down in their beer, stockpiling for the complete unknown that we were going to be seeing.
Matt Hasselbeck was going to be starting against the Jacksonville Jaguars instead of Seneca Wallace. Wallace is a better-than-average backup but the distance between him and Hasselbeck is a large one. Despite this, fans were worried that he was coming back from the rib injury too early. What would happen the first time he got hit? Would our season crash with him to the turf?
Early in the game, the team seemed to have the same feeling. Everyone seemed tentative and cautious until the clock went under 10 minutes to play in the first quarter. In what is my play of the game, Hasselbeck went back to pass deep in Seahawks territory after a Jaguars punt. He scanned the field but the coverage was good. For a moment, the stadium seemed to suck in all the oxygen as the crowd held its breath in that awful, oh my god, he’s going to get hit feeling spread like the swine flu. Hasselbeck scrambled for a moment trying to find an open receiver before pulling the ball down and heading into the open field ahead of him. The woman next to me screamed for Hasselbeck to slide even though no one was near him and he ran on, harder and faster, until finally getting out of bounds with a push from a defender. There was an audible exhale as the crowd watched Hasselbeck run back onto the field, pumping his fist in exultation. Cheers erupted and everyone relaxed as we all realized that yes, Matt is back.