- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2003

Tim Hasselbeck again failed to hold a lead. And Hasselbeck once again showed that he has a future in the NFL.

Hasselbeck, making the first start of his career, finished 22 of 42 for 231 yards yesterday as the Washington Redskins lost to the New Orleans Saints, 24-20.

Hasselbeck produced just nine first downs and six points on his final seven series and had more turnovers (two) than touchdown drives (one). He generated a poor 58.7 passer rating.

“Tim played pretty well,” Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. “He hung in there. He made some beautiful throws. He has the potential to be a good, solid player. I really believe that.”

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson agreed, saying Hasselbeck played as well as could be expected for a quarterback in his first start — especially considering he has just five weeks of experience in Spurrier’s complicated system.

Hasselbeck, who might start again in place of the ailing Patrick Ramsey next week against the New York Giants, was more critical of his play.

“I wish I had been a little more accurate at times and made some plays we needed to make,” he said. “I fumbled that ball as I’m trying to scramble. I need to do a better job of protecting the football.”

As he did after his first extended action last week in a fourth-quarter collapse against the Miami Dolphins, Hasselbeck refused to blame his failures on his lack of experience.

For example, the Redskins trailed just 24-20 with 7:17 to play and faced a third-and-2 at their 36. Hasselbeck overthrew receiver Laveranues Coles. Washington didn’t get the ball back until just 2:12 remained, 80 yards from the end zone.

“I need to give Laveranues a chance to put his hands on the ball, and I put it out of bounds,” said Hasselbeck, whose brother Matt quarterbacked Seattle to another victory yesterday “I’m not going to put that on, ‘I haven’t been here. That’s why I didn’t make that throw.’ This organization has decided to trust me to come in and play when Patrick’s not healthy. It’s my job to make plays.”

It was the same story on third-and-10 from the Washington 41 with 1:52 left. Wideout Patrick Johnson broke open downfield, but Hasselbeck was late with the pass and that enabled safety Jay Bellamy to come over and knock it away.

“If I could have gotten it to Pat a little quicker, he would have had a chance to catch the ball instead of getting hit as he caught it,” Hasselbeck said.

And even though Hasselbeck’s interception bounced off running back Trung Canidate’s hands, the quarterback blamed himself.

“It goes off Trung’s hands, but it was a really tough play for him to make,” Hasselbeck said. “That’s an interception off me because I threw it too hard. When you have running backs, you need to put [the ball] on their numbers.”

As Hasselbeck would say, the only numbers that matter are in the win-loss column.

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