Hasselbeck threw two touchdown passes and got another TD on a sneak, leading the Seahawks to a 28-26 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday that won the division and earned a first-round playoff game at home.
“You have a better chance at home,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. “You should. It’s a ‘Thank you’ to your fans, as much as anything else.”
When the Seahawks (9-7) set their goals, winning the division ranked second only to making the playoffs. If they could land a home game or two, even better.
After an up-and-down ride where Seattle sometimes was a big disappointment, Hasselbeck and his teammates were happy to claim a prize they’ve coveted since last summer.
“We had some major adversity through the season and we kept our eyes focused on that goal and accomplished it,” he said. “We didn’t do it the easy way. We did it the hard way, and it was a little sloppy at times.
“But we got it done. That’s what counts.”
The Seahawks barely avoided another late meltdown. Warrick Dunn was stopped on a 2-point conversion attempt that would have forced overtime.
“I knew I wasn’t in,” Dunn said. “It was just one of those plays that we thought was going to be there and it wasn’t. They played it well. I was trying to squeeze myself into a small crack and get in.”
“To come up short like we did is not acceptable,” Atlanta coach Jim Mora said. “But to run for 204 yards, to have drives with a rookie quarterback to win, and to stop the run? That was outstanding.”
“It’s too bad we didn’t get the ball back,” Holmgren said. “They ate up the clock with their final drive. He had a chance at the rushing title and just missed it.”
It was a meaningless game for Atlanta (11-5), which lost its final two after securing the NFC’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs two weeks ago.
Atlanta gets a first-round bye, while Seattle will host NFC West rival St. Louis next Saturday.
Mora vowed to treat this like a playoff game Michael Vick played just over one quarter, but there was no reason to risk an injury to the team’s star, who was 6-of-7 for 35 yards and one TD. He left in the second quarter after complaining of numbness in his left (throwing) hand, but said he’ll be ready for the playoffs.
“My finger went numb, but it was nothing,” Vick said.
Schaub almost helped the Falcons win anyway. Atlanta moved 69 yards in the final 4:28 behind Schaub and the running of Dunn, who finished with 132 yards and posted his third 1,000-yard rushing season.
It got dramatic with the clock running down when the Falcons reached the red zone. But unlike Seattle’s late collapses against St. Louis and Dallas, this one didn’t slip away—not when Dunn was stopped.
“It was huge. It won the game for us,” Seahawks linebacker Chad Brown said.
On fourth-and-1 at the 12, Schaub threw a swing pass to fullback Fred McCrary for a 9-yard gain. Schaub was tackled for no gain when a scrambled from the 3, and Atlanta took its last timeout with :07 on the clock.
On third down, Seattle’s Ken Lucas had a sure interception go through his hands. Atlanta got a final play, and Schaub found Finneran on a crossing route at the back of the end zone.
“I knew there wasn’t another second to be squeezed out of that clock,” Holmgren said.
That set up the 2-point conversion try. Schaub rolled left and handed off for a counter play to Dunn, who almost got across the goal line before he was smothered by Brown and a pile of Seahawks.
“I didn’t even think it was that close,” Holmgren said. “I was out talking to Jim Mora when all of a sudden someone said they were reviewing it. We have been though some of those, and some that they didn’t review this year.”
Jay Feely made a 40-yard field goal to pull Atlanta within 21-20 with 10:12 remaining. The Falcons would have held the lead at that point, but on the previous possession he was wide left on a 39-yard try.
Hasselbeck threw a 3-yard TD pass to tight end Jerramy Stevens midway through the fourth quarter, giving the Seahawks their first lead, 21-17. Hasselbeck made it 28-20 on a 1-yard sneak with 4:28 to play.
^Notes: Seattle WR Darrell Jackson fell 1 yard short of a 1,200-yard season. … The Falcons led the NFL and set a franchise record with 2,682 yards rushing. … Seahawks WR Koren Robinson was inactive, punished for violating an undisclosed team rule. He missed five of Seattle’s final six games, sitting out two games for breaking team rules and four for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.