Hasselbeck’s shoulder sore, will play

Matt Hasselbeck is goal-oriented. Right now, that leaves him and

his Seahawks in an altered state.

Seattle’s captain and three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has

stopped talking about the goals the team set this summer – winning

the NFC West for the fifth time in six seasons, or at least

returning to the playoffs after a one-year absence.

Now, with postseason hopes still almost nonexistent despite two

straight wins that have the Seahawks at 5-7 with four games

remaining, Hasselbeck is rallying his team around a more modest

goal – a winning season.

“That’s absolutely what we’re still playing for,” he said

after leading the game-winning drive in the final minute of a 20-17

victory over San Francisco on Sunday. “The way to do it, though,

is one game at a time, one practice at a time, one play at a time,

just doing all the things we said before the season is so

important.”

Admittedly, it’s a modest goal now. Yet for a team that was 4-12

last season and just forced out its president and general manager,

Seattle will take it.

“It would be easy to look at all the mistakes we’ve made, and

look at the big mountain we have to climb to accomplish it, and get

discouraged,” Hasselbeck said. “So we just have to stay

focused.

“If a (winning season) happens, it happens. We can control a

good part of that.”

It would take stretching the winning streak to an improbable six

games, plus a combination of flops in front of them too numerous to

mention, for the Seahawks’ to steal a wild-card berth with a 9-7

record in the jumbled NFC. Losing both games to first-place Arizona

(8-4) takes away virtually all hope of winning the division.

So coach Jim Mora isn’t motivated by even the faintest of

postseason prospects.

“No, not really,” Mora said Monday. “I mean, every once in a

while, sure, you give it a little thought, but really what we’re

trying to do is focus on the next game and getting better.”

That next game is Sunday at Houston (5-7). And getting better

includes the constant concern over the health of the indispensable,

34-year-old quarterback.

A sore shoulder may cost Hasselbeck some practice time but not

the start against the Texans.

Hasselbeck, who missed 2 1/2 games earlier this season with

broken ribs, got his throwing shoulder – already aching for weeks –

driven into the turf on a third-and-1 scramble in the third quarter

Sunday. San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson hit him low, and Takeo

Spikes came in across his back for a blow Hasselbeck felt on those

ribs.

The double whammy left him on his back on the field for a tense

moment. The home crowd gasped – as it often does every time

Hasselbeck takes off running these days. A team doctor and trainer

bent over him, then escorted him off the field. On the sidelines,

the medical staff talked to him for half of the 49ers’ ensuing

drive as Hasselbeck stood with a coat and knit cap on. They didn’t

do any treatment, but the conversation was urgent enough that

offensive coordinator Greg Knapp was forced to stand aside for a

few minutes and wait to speak to his quarterback.

“I mistakenly thought that I could probably get the first

(down),” Hasselbeck said. “I wasn’t in love with the Deion Branch

opportunity on that route, and I tried to run it, and I didn’t get

it, and I kind of got my shoulder a little bit. I just needed a

minute.

“It will probably be fine.”

Hasselbeck threw a few warmup tosses, then went back and

finished the game, looking as good thowing at the end as he had all

day. Then he got what he and the team called extensive ice

treatment afterward.

“It’s no surprise: I’m a Matt Hasselbeck fan,” Mora said. “I

think that he excels in crunch time. He shows his toughness every

time he goes out there.”