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Friday, October 26, 2012
On Matt Hasselbeck and comeback wins

By Paul Kuharsky

Mike Munchak has done well to steer clear of a quarterback controversy in Tennessee.

Jake Locker won the job in the preseason, but has been out since he injured his left, non-throwing shoulder, for a second time this season in the Titans’ Sept. 30 loss to Houston.

Matt Hasselbeck has played since, playing poorly in relief in Houston and against the Vikings in Minnesota, but leading his team to consecutive wins against Pittsburgh and in Buffalo.

Hasselbeck will start Sunday against the Colts, and should he help the Titans get a third consecutive win, a lot of us would think Munchak would be in a tough spot.

Could he pull the veteran who gets the Titans to 4-4 after a 1-4 start? Do you sit a quarterback who’s engineering a three-game winning streak?

It’s possible Locker won’t be ready a week later to face the Chicago Bears in Nashville. Or it’s possible the Titans could slow-play the injury and say he’s not ready to return even if he is.

Or the team could decide to change back to Locker, as a starter doesn’t lose his job because of injury and Locker wasn’t playing poorly when he was knocked out.

Yes, the Titans should be leaning toward Locker and thinking long term. But if you’re in the playoff mix with Hasselbeck playing well, never mind that you’re not a Super Bowl-caliber team. I believe you’ve got an obligation to try to win now and worry about later, later.

On the heels of Hasselbeck’s game-winning TD pass at the end of the Bills game, I asked Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats and Info to take a look at how he ranks in comebacks.

She said Hasselbeck has five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since he joined the Titans in 2011. That is tied for fourth-most in that time span, with only Eli Manning (eight), Matt Ryan (six) and Matthew Stafford (six) ahead of him.

And it’s 45 percent of his wins with Tennessee.

It’s a good thing that he’s able to engineer such comebacks, though you can also say he should have the team in position to win earlier in the game, I suppose.