Kansas City, Mo. — Matt Hasselbeck appeared to be in midseason form, completing a chest pass that would have made Rick Barry proud. The Seattle Seahawks didn’t even need their newest player.
Meanwhile, Matt Cassel lasted just three plays, limping off to the locker room with a leg injury. The Kansas City Chiefs could be in a lot of trouble.
Hasselbeck threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns with newly signed Edgerrin James watching on the sideline Saturday night, leading the Seahawks to a 14-10 win.
James, the NFL’s active rushing leader, signed with Seattle on Tuesday and went through pregame warmups with the team. By the time the game rolled around, though, he was in sweats, pen and notepad in hand.
Hasselbeck put on a good show for his new teammate, leading the Seahawks on scoring drives to end the first half and open the second. He was at his improvising best in the second quarter, turning a botched run into an NBA-style 17-yard completion to T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
“The ball just popped right out like a football follies kind of video and there was T.J.,” Hasselbeck said. “I kind of gave him a little chest pass and he did the rest. Not Bob Cousy, but Bob Cousy-esque.”
Kansas City had more of a Washington Generals night.
The Chiefs had a woeful game on offense, going 1 of 10 on third down, missing two field goals and scoring their only TD on defense. Worse yet, Kansas City lost two starters in the game’s first three minutes: Cassel and cornerback Brandon Flowers (shoulder). Receiver Devard Darling also had to be helped off in the second quarter, favoring his left leg.
For a team that’s trying to rebuild from a two-win season, this was not a good night.
“Disappointing across the board for me tonight, as a team,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. “I feel like after making some progress in Week 2, we went backward tonight.”
Cassel was the biggest blow.
He was injured the first time he dropped back to pass, dragged down from behind by Brandon Mebane after the pocket collapsed. Cassel called timeout, then limped down the tunnel toward the locker room with a left leg injury and didn’t return.
Signed to a a six-year, $63 million contract in the offseason, Cassel had a so-so first preseason game against Houston, then spent last week’s game against Minnesota running for his life because of numerous offensive line breakdowns.
He was supposed to play into the third quarter against the Seahawks and show what he can do with more of the playbook available. Now, it’s not clear if Cassel will even be available for next week’s preseason finale against St. Louis.
The Chiefs haven’t won any kind of game in nine months, a stretch that could continue to grow if Cassel is out for an extended period.
“We just have to get over that hump,” said backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen, who may have hurt his chances of making the team by going 8-for-15 for 56 yards. “We had three close games that we could have won in the fourth quarter. That was a hump we couldn’t get over last year and it kind of carried over.”
Hasselbeck got off to a rough start, too. His first pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and picked off by Flowers, who returned it for a 28-yard touchdown for Kansas City’s first turnover of the preseason.
Hasselbeck was steady after that, moving the Seahawks into scoring position four times in the first half despite playing behind an offensive line missing two starters. He kept one drive alive with the chest pass to Houshmandzadeh, then hooked up with him again for an 8-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 7.
Hasselbeck moved the Seahawks quickly down the field to open the second half, hitting John Carlson on a 28-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7. He was done after that, finishing 19 for 25 in what was likely his last significant action before the regular season.
“Matt was sharp,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “It is good to see the timing between him and the guys is coming along.”