Maybe being in the Super Bowl isn’t all that its cracked up to be. At least that thought has to be going through the minds of the two Super Bowl quarterbacks from a season ago, as both were injured on Sunday and both injuries were enough so that both their teams lost. In Atlanta, Ben Roethlisberger took a shot to the head in the third quarter, and ended up on cart and by the 4th quarter was in street clothes on the bench as the Steelers fell in overtime to the Falcons 41-38. Big Ben was having his best throwing day of the year, hitting on 16 of 22 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. The Steelers offense was moving the ball all day against the Falcons, and there was no reason to believe that would have stopped if Ben was able to keep playing. Head coach Bill Cowher said after the game that Roethlisberger’s status for next week in Oakland was up in the air.
In Seattle, quarterback Matt Hasslebeck was busy postgame trying on a pair of crutches as he stood in the locker room coming to grips with a sprained MCL that could very well ruin the chances of Seattle repeating as NFC or even NFC West champs. The injury, combined with a roster already missing MVP RB Shaun Alexander and WR Bobby Engram, could be one that is just too much for Seattle to overcome. The early word is that Hasslebeck is expected to miss “a couple of weeks” according to a league source.
Seattle papers on Monday were about as grim as the outcome of Sundays game was. “Hawks in House of Pain” screamed the headline in the Seattle Times. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer read – “Hasselbeck’s injury adds to insult of rare loss at Qwest Field.” It was the first loss that Seattle has suffered at home since week 13 of the 2004 season, a stretch of 13 games without a blemish at Qwest field.
While the Steelers at least have a backup in Charlie Batch who has already shown this season he can come in and lead the team, the Hawks have little used Seneca Wallace backing up Hasslebeck, and Sunday his inexperience in live game action showed. Wallace was dazed and confused by the Vikings on Sunday, and ended the day throwing 14-for-25 for 134 yards, no TD’s and two picks. He also was blindsided in the 4th quarter, fumbling the ball in the end zone that resulted in a Vikings TD.
Wallace last season attempted just 25 passes in a season in which Hasslebeck was as important to the Hawks as Alexander.
Seattle now has to face a trip to old AFC West rival Kansas City this next week without both Hasslebeck or Alexander. They do get a mini-break with the Raiders at home the following week, but then host rival St.Louis and then head to San Fran before Green Bay comes to town and then they head to Denver. The Steelers get a game in Oakland, a home game vs the Broncos, home for the Saints, and at Cleveland in their next month of action. It will be up to veteran leadership as well as some solid coaching for both the Steelers and Seahawks if either one of these two teams have even the faintest of dreams of being back in the title game in Miami this season.