The stakes won’t be quite as high today, when the surging New Orleans Saints (9-3) visit Hasselbeck’s new team in Tennessee (7-5), but it will be a meaningful game nonetheless.
One season after Hasselbeck led Seattle to a playoff berth (albeit with a 7-9 record) and a first-round playoff upset of New Orleans, he has the Titans in contention for a wild-card playoff berth in the AFC.
If Hasselbeck can torment Gregg Williams’ heavy-pressure defense the way he did – twice – last season, the Saints will be hard-pressed to increase their winning streak beyond four games.
“He’s a quick decision maker and I think a good leader and certainly a guy that you have to recognize can beat you with his arm,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “There are some valid points there of concern where you recognize he’s a veteran player who has won football games.”
During a 2010 regular season game in New Orleans, Hasselbeck completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 366 yards and a TD, but fumbles and drives that ended in field goals prevented the Seahawks from keeping up with New Orleans that day.
In a rematch in the wild card round of the playoffs, the Saints had to travel to Seattle, where Hasselbeck, whose ability to throw on the run complicates matters for aggressive, blitzing defenses, passed for 272 yards and four TDs to send the Saints packing.