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Houshmandzadeh pays off -- until third down

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The rapport between Matt Hasselbeck and T.J. Houshmandzadeh spans first and second down, apparently.

The charts, produced by Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, break down Hasselbeck's passer ratings by receiver and situation. The first chart isolates first and second downs, where targeting Houshmandzadeh -- and quite a few others -- has paid off nicely for the veteran quarterback.

The second chart isolates third down. Hasselbeck's rating when throwing to Houshmandzadeh drops from 108.3 on early downs to 39.6 on third down. His rating when throwing to Houshmandzadeh on third down also lags dramatically relative to his third-down rating when targeting other Seattle players. Perhaps defenses pay special attention to Houshmandzadeh on third down. The pass Arizona's Antrel Rolle picked off against Hasselbeck -- the one when Houshmandzadeh waved at the ball as it sailed too long -- came on third down.

Deion Branch probably hasn't played enough to analyze across these situations, but if Hasselbeck or anyone else needs to know where to find him, Branch has proved willing to help.