By Fred Mitchell Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — Aside from the random grass stain that splendidly accented his Seahawks’ green and white road uniform, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck emerged virtually unscathed from the Bears’ defensive rush Sunday.
Hasselbeck completed 25 of 40 passes for 242 yards and one TD as the Seahawks beat the Bears 23-20 at Soldier Field. Bears defensive ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije were among those frustrated by the elusive QB.
“He’s a veteran quarterback … does a great job getting rid of the ball,” said Idonije, who registered a career-high three sacks the previous game at Carolina. “It was a tough day, but we had opportunities. Me, myself … we had some opportunities to get him down. Gotta get him down with the ball.”
Against Seattle, only defensive tackle Matt Toeaina was credited with a quarterback hurry.
The Seahawks’ running game was productive with recently acquired Marshawn Lynch (17 carries for 44 yards) and Jordan Forsett (10 for 67), therefore Seattle’s play-action worked effectively. Bears defensive lineman Tommie Harris was credited with one tackle, as was Anthony Adams and Henry Melton.
“We got to get there,” said Idonije, who had two tackles. “This whole game is based on timing. We’ve got to do a better job of disrupting them.”
The Bears appeared to have a sack and a forced fumble when Melton got to Hasselbeck. But the officials ruled an incompletion that Hasselbeck attempted to shovel pass.
“I thought he fumbled it; I thought we picked it up,” Melton said. “I didn’t see him do a little shovel (pass) or whatever he did. I thought we had the ball. There were a bunch of times where it could have been a turning point (for the Bears) where I thought the defensive line or the linebackers had him enclosed and had him all wrapped up. But he found a way to do a little something with the ball and get it off. It was frustrating.”
Peppers, who was occasionally double-teamed but often left one-on-one against tackle Russell Okung, was credited with just two tackles.
“Julius Peppers didn’t do a good enough job, like I didn’t do a good enough job and everyone else,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said.
The Bears’ defense was without the services of five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs as Seattle converted 7 of 18 third-down situations.
“Anytime you don’t have a Pro Bowl player out there on the field, of course you miss him,” said Bears safety Chris Harris, who had seven tackles. “But I don’t think Lance’s absence had anything to do with the way we played. I thought Brian Iwuh (team-high nine tackles, including one for loss) stepped in and played a pretty good game.”
In the end, the Bears wound up three points short, feeling as if Hasselbeck was the one who got away.
“I had a chance of doing it. I just felt like it was going to come,” Melton said. “But it just never did for us.”