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Originally published December 20, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Page modified December 21, 2010 at 6:26 PM

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Seahawks Pete Carroll: "We're going with Matt"

Matt Hasselbeck was named starter for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll despite being pulled in the second half against the Falcons.

Seattle Times staff reporter; Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Seattle @ Tampa Bay, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON — Coach Pete Carroll decided not to change quarterbacks.

Instead, he's relying on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to change, ending the rash of turnovers that threatened his status as the Seahawks' starter.

"We're going with Matt," Carroll said Monday afternoon. "Matt has been our quarterback. He has been the guy that has given us a chance all throughout, and gives us our best chance to finish off right."

Hasselbeck was benched midway through the second half of Sunday's loss to Atlanta, the culmination of a turnover binge that spans nearly a month. He has committed 13 in the previous four games. Twelve of those turnovers have occurred when Seattle was trailing, with Hasselbeck forcing the ball downfield trying to produce a comeback.

He committed five turnovers in San Francisco on Dec. 12, which led to 20 49ers points. The Seahawks lost by 19. Afterward, Carroll said Hasselbeck remained the starter.

Then he committed three turnovers in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to Atlanta, which translated to 17 Falcon points. The Seahawks lost by 16.

Hasselbeck was replaced by Charlie Whitehurst with 47 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Whitehurst was acquired this offseason from San Diego. He has appeared in four games this season, and gotten better with each appearance. He led Seattle on an 88-yard touchdown drive his second possession Sunday, running the ball into the end zone on a scramble.

After the score, the crowd at Qwest Field chanted Whitehurst's first name. After the game, Carroll said he wasn't sure who would start at quarterback when Seattle traveled to Tampa Bay this weekend.

Sunday's game was a low point Hasselbeck, who is in his 10th season in Seattle. He has been removed from losses before, including being pulled with seven minutes left in a 21-0 loss at Pittsburgh in 2007. But his status was never in question as he led the team on a run of four consecutive division titles, four playoff victories and a Super Bowl appearance.

Now, he is in the final year of his contract, and Whitehurst was acquired with the idea he could become a starting quarterback.

Hasselbeck was not available for interviews Monday, but his coach was asked about the quarterback's frame of mind.

"He has been through so much here," Carroll said. "Every guy that has been in that situation would like to be treated differently than that, but he understands, too. He knows.

"He wants to come back and show you through his play, and he'll do that."

Consider it a vote of confidence for a quarterback who has remained Seattle's starter through three different coaches in three years.

But at 35, he is a free agent after this season, and Whitehurst is signed through 2011. Carroll was asked how much the future for this franchise weighed into this decision. He said he the only future he focused on is Sunday's game in Tampa Bay.

"We're at the precipice of accomplishing something we wanted to accomplish when we started this season," Carroll said of the NFC West title. "We wanted to make sure that we keep that in focus. I'm not worried about down the road right now. Right now, we're just trying to get this week put together so when we take off and get out of here, we're ready to go win a football game."

Notes

• CB Marcus Trufant left Sunday's game with back spasms, and he was evaluated and is recovering. Carroll said it is unrelated to the disk injury that kept Trufant out the first six games last season. If Trufant's back doesn't loosen up enough for him to play, rookie Walter Thurmond is expected to start. Thurmond missed last week's game because of a sore hamstring, but ran Monday and is expected to practice Wednesday.

• DL Junior Siavii suffered a pinched nerve Sunday, and has undergone tests. He will be monitored closely the next two days.

• DB Roy Lewis, special-teams captain, was placed on injured reserve because of a knee injury that will require surgery. He was replaced on the active roster by Marcus Brown, who was a member of the practice squad.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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