SEATTLE—The flailing Seahawks are still enduring more injuries than the final season of "ER."
"Because of our injury situation we just don't have much room for error," new coach Jim Mora said, days after undefeated Indianapolis routed mistake-filled Seattle. "We're on our third left tackle. And second left guard. And backup quarterback. And both starting corners have been out. Starting middle linebackers have been missing.
Enough is enough for Matt Hasselbeck. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has watched three consecutive losses that have pained him almost as much as his broken rib. Seattle (1-3) is already on the verge of falling out of the NFC West race, one month into a supposed season of renewal under the energetic Mora.
So, yes, he and his Seahawks are desperate entering Sunday's home game against the revitalized Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2). How desperate? Hasselbeck willed himself through practices this week - with the help of high-potency "aspirin" - and is probable to start, even though he was in significant pain Monday.
"I'll tell you what, I've always had a lot of respect for him and it keeps growing," Mora said. "I run into Matt in the locker room and he's just in excruciating pain - Oh, goodness sakes. And he's down. (He says) 'It's not going good. It was a bad day.' And I said, 'Well, hang in there. Maybe tomorrow you will feel better.'
"And (Tuesday) I walk in, and he had come in and gotten his treatment, taken a couple of aspirin - a couple of high-potency aspirin - and gone out and worked out and fought his way through it.
"The guy is just, I mean without question, doing everything possible to get out on the football field."
And to think the pain was after a noncontact workout of rehabilitation exercises. Think the Jaguars won't intensely target Hasselbeck if he indeed returns?
"I think each guy kind of has to dig deep right now," said Hasselbeck, noting he is sacrificing time to heal completely. "Sometimes you just got to find a way - even if you don't know how."
Of course, desperation is relative. The Jaguars feel that way, too, despite consecutive division wins over Houston and Tennessee. With David Garrard's improved passing and Maurice Jones-Drew's explosive running, they have scored more than 30 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
Yet Jacksonville is still two games behind the rampaging Colts in the AFC South.
"We're always desperate," said Jones-Drew, who tied for second in the league with five touchdowns and needs 123 yards rushing to pass James Stewart (2,951) for second in team history. "Everyone wants to talk about all these other teams and how they're desperate, but at the same time, we're only 2-2, you know? That's not too much better than 1-3."
Coach Jack Del Rio says simply: "We've got a long way to go."
He knows this game will largely hinge on whether Hasselbeck plays. Seattle operates at a much more methodical, predictable pace under backup Seneca Wallace, whom Mora noted needs to improve his decision making. In his two fill-in starts, Wallace has seemed conflicted whether to use his ability to run, or to prove he's the passer his coaches want him to be.
Pressing defenses and making correct, snap decisions are Hasselbeck's strengths.
"I see a veteran quarterback that knows what he wants to do with the offense. They work at a different tempo when he's involved in the game," Del Rio said, adding his Jaguars have prepared for both Hasselbeck and Wallace.
Garrard did not have a 300-yard passing day in his first 50 NFL games. He has three in his last 10, including last week to beat Tennessee. He is completing almost 60 percent of his throws, with five touchdowns and just one interception in four games. Del Rio credits him staying in Jacksonville last offseason to complete a more dedicated workout regimen as the key to his fast start.
"Just being able to have that stamina going into the fourth quarter and not be winded has really helped me," Garrard admitted.
This is only Jacksonville's second trip to Seattle, and first since Oct. 7, 2001, when the Seahawks won at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium while Qwest Field was being built.
There have been questions about the Jaguars flying to Seattle on Friday and not having a team curfew or bed check that night. Garrard noted that's a change from 2004 when they went to San Diego on a Saturday - and got whacked 34-21 by the Chargers.
Former Rams receiver Torry Holt, a longtime Seahawks nemesis who has 15 catches through four games with his new team, likes having two nights to acclimate in cooler Seattle for his 150th career start.
"Now, I've heard horror stories where for some teams it's backfired," the seven-time Pro Bowl pick said.
Whatever, Del Rio says.
"(We won't) concern ourselves too much with what time curfew is, what time little Johnny is getting checked in, whether or not he feels good or doesn't feel good," the coach said. "We're just going out to play good football."