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Hasselbeck returns to Seattle for preseason opener

By Liz Mathews

Matt Hasselbeck had one of the best games of his career in his final home appearance in a Seahawks uniform. Completing 22 of 35 attempts for 272 yards and four touchdowns, Hasselbeck was key in the Seahawks’ wild-card victory over the Saints in January of 2011.

Now in his second season with the Titans, Hasselbeck will return to CenturyLink Field Saturday to face the Seahawks in the preseason opener for both teams.

“When I left that field, I truly didn’t think that was the last time I would play in that stadium,” Hasselbeck said during a media conference call this week. “Even though I knew it very easily could be, I just didn’t feel that in my heart.”

Matt Hasselbeck had one of his best performances in what turned out to be his last home game as a Seahawk. (AP)

The Seahawks’ season ended with a loss to the Bears in the divisional round. Seattle opted to move on without Hasselbeck, whose contract expired at the end of the season. He finished his career in Seattle as the franchise’s all-time leader in passing attempts (4,250), completions (2,559) and yards (29,434). He ranks second in touchdown passes with 174.

“You can always say what if this would’ve happened, or what if that would’ve happened, what if we would’ve beaten Chicago,” Hasselbeck said when asked if he had any regrets about the way things ended in Seattle. “But there’s nothing that I could’ve done differently. If there’s nothing I could’ve done differently, you could second-guess yourself.

“But honestly, my prayer through the whole thing was that if I did go to free agency, I would know what to do because I know that my heart was really in one place, but I didn’t know.”

But the decision was made for him when coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider informed Hasselbeck over the phone that the team was “going a different way.”

“I was appreciative of that and I think in a lot of ways it made it a lot easier for me to move on,” Hasselbeck said. “I did the best that I could to cut the ties for a little bit and kind of emotionally step into this role and put all the focus and energy that I needed here. It wasn’t easy but I’m happy with how the first year went.”

Injury-plagued throughout his final seasons with the Seahawks, Hasselbeck played all 16 games in 2011 for the Titans, throwing for 3,571 yards and 18 touchdowns.

And regardless of the past, Hasselbeck remains fond of Seattle — a place in which he spent 10 seasons, raised a family and matured as a player. A place he still calls home.

“Just because of where this game is, and it is a preseason game, I think I may soak it in just a little bit more,” Hasselbeck said. “Just enjoy the moment and the fact that I’m back there playing against some friends, playing in front of some friends, and obviously a place that was really, really special to me and my family in terms of some great memories and some tough times.

“It’ll be nice to come home and get a chance to experience that just one more time.”

It has yet to be announced whether Hasselbeck or former Husky Jake Locker will get the starting nod on Saturday. Both are competing to be Tennessee’s starter.