SEATTLE — Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had a rocky return to the Pacific Northwest, throwing a pair of interceptions in his limited appearance, while Seattle rookie Russell Wilson dazzled with touchdowns running and throwing in the second half to help the Seahawks open the preseason with a 27-17 victory Saturday night.
Hasselbeck, who was Seattle’s anchor at quarterback for nearly a decade, had his pass intended for Nate Washington on his first play of the game get deflected into the arms of Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and returned 23 yards for a touchdown.
Seattle went ahead 17-3 on the first drive of the second half when Wilson, in a three-way competition for the Seahawks’ quarterback job, threw a 39-yard scoring pass to Braylon Edwards. Wilson added a 32-yard bootleg TD run with 1:51 left to cap an impressive debut.
Matt Flynn got the start at quarterback for Seattle, while Tarvaris Jackson was left to watch this week. Coach Pete Carroll has given no indication what the rotation will be next week when Seattle travels to Denver.
Hasselbeck barely had time to be acknowledged by the Seattle crowd before watching the Seahawks take the lead. He was adorned with cheers and signs before the game with plenty of fans still donning No. 8 Seahawks jerseys. Hasselbeck said he got choked up speaking to his teammates before the game.
“The reception I got from the fans in both the pregame and during the game was humbling,” Hasselbeck said.
Hasselbeck threw a quick out for Washington on the first play from scrimmage. But Hasselbeck’s throw was poor — low and too far behind Washington.
The receiver tried to pull in the pass, but instead knocked it into the arm, off the arm of safety Earl Thomas and into Browner’s arms. The 23-yard interception return gave Seattle a 7-0 lead just nine seconds into the preseason.
“It was kind of a freak thing,” Hasselbeck said. “It reminded me of my first pass the last time I was in this stadium which was intercepted against the Saints. … It was disappointing it started that way. Not at all how I envisioned it.”
That came in the NFC wild card game when Hasselbeck was still the Seahawks’ franchise quarterback and he engineered an upset of the defending Super Bowl champions when Seattle got into the playoffs with a losing record.
Seattle opted to go a different direction at quarterback before the start of the 2011 season and Hasselbeck ended up in Tennessee, where he finds himself this preseason battling Jake Locker for the starting job.