Instead, the Atlanta Falcons scored on a pivotal third-quarter play, stretching a 17-10 lead into double digits on their way to a 34-18 victory that threatened to end Hasselbeck's run as the Seahawks' starting quarterback.
Hasselbeck took the snap from center and rolled to his right on first-and-10 from the Seattle 4, but Falcons defensive end Jamaal Anderson was on him before Hasselbeck could set his feet, let alone throw the ball. Anderson knocked the ball free. He also might have committed a facemask penalty -- Hasselbeck lobbied for a call, to no avail. Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux recovered in the end zone.
"If I make the guy miss -- there’s an 'if' there, I guess -- but that’s a 14-point swing, and as much as we preach about turnovers, turning the ball over is unacceptable," Hasselbeck told reporters after the game.
Down by two touchdowns after the Babineaux recovery, Hasselbeck admittedly began pressing. He threw interceptions on the Seahawks' next two drives. That was enough for coach Pete Carroll to send in backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to finish the game. It was also enough to doom Seattle to its eighth double-digit defeat of the season when a victory would have left the Seahawks alone atop the NFC West with two games remaining.
"We realize how we fought really hard in this game, had a chance to kind of be involved with a really good football team well into this game," Carroll told reporters Monday. "Our third-quarter play just put us behind too far to catch up on a good squad."