Seahawks’ luck finally changes

SEATTLE (AP) — The same Seahawks who all season couldn’t buy a break with all of team owner Paul Allen’s Microsoft zillions finally got lucky.

But now they’re going to have to be good, too. Or at least better than they’ve been.

All of Seattle — players, coaches and fans alike — reveled in advancing to the NFC’s divisional playoffs. The day of exhale Sunday was time for reflection upon the Seahawks’ eight-point rally over the final seven minutes of the previous night’s amazing 21-20 win over Dallas.

It was also part appreciation for Jordan Babineaux preserving the season by tripping Tony Romo with a shoe tackle after the Cowboys quarterback and holder dropped the snap on a 19-yard field goal attempt with 1:19 to go.

“The players certainly deserve Sunday off. And I’m looking forward to spending Sunday with my family,” coach Mike Holmgren said late Saturday night.

But Sunday also included some important evaluation.

Seattle (10-7) will face top-seeded Chicago (13-3) on the road next Sunday. The Bears routed Seattle 37-6 at Soldier Field during the regular season.

“Obviously, that was probably the worst we have played as a team this year — and for sure me,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said of that October night.

He was 16-for-35, a season low 45.7 completion percentage, with two interceptions at Chicago, the first of six games Shaun Alexander missed with a broken foot.

“The best defense in the NFL. You might have to be crazy to want to play them, I don’t know,” Hasselbeck said of the Bears.

The Seahawks, winners of just two of their last five games, know they must improve immediately to return to the NFC championship game for the second consecutive January.

“We have to worry about ourselves,” defensive Bryce Fisher said. “We are our own biggest enemy.”

Foremost, Hasselbeck must improve.

Last season’s Super Bowl and Pro Bowl starter was 18-for-36 for 240 yards Saturday, with two touchdown passes to Jerramy Stevens. The second gave Seattle a 21-20 lead with 4:24 left.

But Hasselbeck also threw two more interceptions that led to two Dallas field goals. He has thrown 10 interceptions in seven games since returning from a four-game absence with a sprained knee.

Hasselbeck and a trainer were fiddling with the brace covering the knee on the bench twice during his 7-for-19 first half. But he and Holmgren have said repeatedly in recent weeks that the knee does not bother Hasselbeck anymore.

Hasselbeck also is playing with a wrap and glove on his left, non-throwing hand that is either badly bruised or has a cracked bone. That, offensive coordinator Gil Haskell said, is bothering the quarterback.

It didn’t look that way initially against Dallas. Hasselbeck was 4-for-6 for 57 yards on the opening drive. He found Bobby Engram mismatched against linebacker/end DeMarcus Ware down the middle for 36 of those yards to set up Josh Brown’s 23-yard field goal.

But over the Seahawks’ final six drives of the half, Hasselbeck was 3-for-13 for 23 yards. His first interception was a wobbly, slow-arriving pass for Deion Branch that Anthony Henry intercepted at the Seahawks 39. Hasselbeck punched the air after that mistake.

“I came into this game thinking, ’Positive plays. Throw the ball away. Get the ball out of your hands. No sacks. No turnovers.’,” Hasselbeck said.

“Ironically, I threw two interceptions right away. I know I have to be better than that.”

Hasselbeck threw one of his better passes to put Seattle up 13-10 in the third quarter. His dart was perfectly timed to Stevens’ break outside away from Roy Williams for a 15-yard touchdown.

But he was errant again on fourth-and-goal from the Dallas 2 with 6:48 left and his team down 20-13. Hasselbeck’s bootleg pass to tight end Will Heller sailed 3 yards out of bounds.

More reason for concern: Seattle lost leading receiver Darrell Jackson again to a toe ligament injury after he ran about two dozen plays on it Saturday without a catch. It was his first action in four weeks. Backup D.J. Hackett was already ailing with a right hip flexor before he sprained an ankle Saturday.

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