Hasselbeck, Not CJ2K, Sinks Ravens Defense

Veteran Matt Hasselbeck stymied the pass rush with a quick release, then went deep.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Sunday, September 18th, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Ryan Mink, Week 2 at Titans

The Ravens’ top priority coming into Tennessee was to stop electrifying running back Chris Johnson.

Mission accomplished.

But it was the play of veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck – in just his second game for the Titans – that sunk Baltimore’s defense.

Hasselbeck was quick getting rid of the ball, which stymied Baltimore’s pass rush. He was on point with his intermediate passing game and deadly in the deep passing game to big-play receivers Kenny Britt and Nate Washington.

That combined for a day to remember for Hasselbeck, who finished 30-for-42 for 358 yards, one touchdown and one interception – a quarterback rating of 95.1.

“We got after [Johnson], we really got after him,” linebacker Ray Lewis said.

“They went away from that. They saw we were getting after him and they threw the ball. And Hasselbeck is a veteran quarterback. He sat out there and got the ball out very quickly.”

The Titans tried to get Johnson and the run game going early on, but the Ravens bottled it up quickly in what was a scoreless first quarter.

Johnson finished the first half with just 23 rushing yards on 11 attempts and was kept on the sideline for chunks of the second half as Hasselbeck went to work. The explosive tailback finished the game with just 53 yards on 24 carries with a long of just seven yards.

Hasselbeck had big games against the Ravens before, including throwing for 333 yards in 2003, but that was long in the past.

The 13-year veteran, who was not re-signed by his longtime Seattle Seahawks this offseason, channeled that kind of performance in his first regular-season game at LP Field, however.

“Matt Hasselbeck came out in his rhythm; he did everything he was supposed to do,” cornerback Cary Williams said. “It just seemed like he was on the money; he was sharp, he was precise.”

Hasselbeck completed at least one pass to an astonishing nine different receivers. He connected on tosses of over 30 yards to three different receivers – Britt, Washington and tight end Jared Cook.

His 42-yard pass to Washington on the first drive of the second half jumpstarted the Titans after they went into halftime tied at 10-10. Hasselbeck hit five of seven passes on the Titans’ next drive in the third quarter, which set up a field goal that put the Ravens further in the rear view mirror.

“Even his deep balls, with perfect coverage, they were jump balls to the outside where only his big receivers could get to it,” safety Tom Zbikowski said. “You got to give him props. He was on today.”

Part of what also helped is that the Ravens didn’t get a lot of pressure on the veteran. A week after notching four sacks (including two that forced fumbles) Baltimore didn’t record a sack in Tennessee.

The Ravens credited it to Hasselbeck, a veteran of the West Coast quick passing game, getting the ball out quickly.

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said Hasselbeck has a much different style than Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will stand in the pocket and try to shake off hits or escape pressure.

“He’s throwing the football on time, on rhythm,” Johnson said.

“We could have done a better job, but he’s a lot like Peyton Manning. He’s throwing the football. … There’s no sense in sending seven guys and putting the pressure on your back end.”

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