I'll be saying more about this later, but I am firmly convinced that Matt Hasselbeck is headed for the best season of his career: I'm talking NFL MVP, a Super Bowl ring, "I'm going to Disneyland," etc. So before he cements his legend for all time in 2008, I thought I'd look back at Beck's Top 10 single-game performances so far.
(All stats lifted from Pro Football Reference, of course)
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... as I said in this space before:
An underrated chapter in the Seahawks-Cowboys series happened in 2002. The Hawks were 1-5, and might as well have had "opponent" emblazoned on their unis because Emmitt "Blowed Up" 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 Matt Hasselbeck back into action. In my mind, this has always been the genesis of Seattle's current success. After D-Jack 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. November 24, 2002: Seahawks 39, Chiefs 32
Sparked by that performance off the bench in Dallas, Matt Hasselbeck bloomed as potential superstar in the last eight weeks of 2002. One of his finest hours was at Seahawks Stadium v. KC. In the midst of a disappointing season, Beck gave Seahawks fans plenty of reason to believe.
8. 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.
7. December 9, 2007: Seahawks 42, Cardinals 21
Beck's best performance of his impressive 2007 campaign... Needing a win to clinch a 4th consecutive NFC West title, The Bald One lit up Arizona with four touchdown bombs. The immobile, aged Kurt Warner was no match for #8 that day.
6. December 27, 2003: Seahawks 24, 49ers 17
With the Hawks needing a win to stay alive for a wild-card berth, Beck led a stirring resurrection from a 14-0 deficit and marshaled Seattle into the playoffs (which they haven't missed since).
5. October 9, 2005: Seahawks 37, Rams 31
4. October 15, 2006: Seahawks 30, Rams 28
In consecutive seasons, Hasselbeck led Seattle to heart-stoppingly thrilling wins at STL, including an improbable 2nd half comeback in 2006. The highlight? Beck's perfect 42-yard strike to D-Jack between three defenders.
3. 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 popped up after a late hit by noted dirtbag Rodney Harrison and told him that he "hit like a fucking fa@@ot."
Brass balls, y'all.
2. January 22, 2006: NFC Championship Game (Seahawks 34, Panthers 14)
Hass 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.
1. 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.