INDIANAPOLIS – Matt Hasselbeck is everywhere right now.
On Tuesday, the Colts quarterback appeared on ESPN’s NFL Live for a light segment with his brother, Tim.
Then, on Thursday night, with the NFL world taking in Brett Favre's number retirement at Lambeau Field, Hasselbeck's name was again brought up.
With Favre in the NBC telecast booth, Hasselbeck texted his former teammate pleading for some more air time for No. 4.
From 1998-2000, Hasselbeck and Favre were teammates in Green Bay as the former sixth-round pick from Boston College learned from the future first ballot Hall of Famer.
Little did anyone know back then that those two would go on to defy the odds for quarterbacks wanting to play (at a high level) into their 40s.
Since 2000, Hasselbeck and Favre are the only quarterbacks over the age of 40 to have records above .500.
Sunday will mark Hasselbeck's fourth start under center this season and he will do it against a quarterback who wasn't even born when Favre made his NFL debut in 1992.
Jameis Winston and Matt Hasselbeck sit at two opposite ends of the current quarterback landscape in the NFL.
For the oldest quarterback in the NFL, his attention Sunday comes against facing a defensive system he knows quite well.
"They're classic Lovie Smith," Hasselbeck says of the Buccaneers defense taking the characteristics of their longtime NFL head coach.
"Really, really good on defense. Very fast, talented defensive line. Their linebackers can fly, they run like safeties. Their safeties run like corners and their corners are great tacklers."
Nearly a decade ago, it was Hasselbeck and Smith seeing each other in pivotal NFC games with serious playoff implications.
Here we are in 2015 and the two are in different places with the stakes on similar ground.
The 5-5 Colts have little margin for error in a competitive AFC South.
The 5-5 Buccaneers sit a game out of the final NFC Wild Card spot, with several teams still hovering around .500.
If the Colts eventually are able to seize control of the AFC South, they can thank a man who is becoming the feel good story of the 2015 NFL season.
"We're in a battle with ourselves for first place really," Hasselbeck says.
"It's up to us. We control what happens. If we go out and win these games that we get to play then we'll win this division again. That is our number one goal. It's the thing we talk about all the time in this locker room. Let's win this week so we can accomplish our goal which is being AFC South Champs again, which guarantees us a home playoff game, which guarantees us a chance to get in the tournament and we'll see what happens from there."
INTERESTING MATCHUPSBuccaneers running back Doug Martin versus the Colts defense:Last week, Doug Martin took off for 235 rushing yards and ranks second in the NFL in that category. Tampa Bay really excelled last week using two back sets (Martin and Charles Sims) along with employing six offensive linemen at a time. The Colts run defense did a nice job in Atlanta without Henry Anderson in the lineup.Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck versus the Buccaneers defense: Tampa Bay will face a backup quarterback for the third straight week in Hasselbeck. This quarterback isn't your typical backup though. Hasselbeck is very familiar with Lovie Smith's defensive system, one that is filled with speed. This week is different compared to Hasselbeck's previous starts as he deals with a new-look offensive line.QUICK FACTS
- The Colts have played a franchise-long eight consecutive one-possession games (5-3).
- Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is one of three 40-year-old quarterbacks in NFL history to have won three consecutive starts (Warren Moon and Brett Favre).
- Under Chuck Pagano, the Colts have an NFL-best .774 winning percentage (24-7) in one-possession games.
- Colts safety Dwight Lowery started 15 games for the Falcons last season.
- This marks the third straight week the Buccaneers have faced a backup quarterback.
- Buccaneers running back Doug Martin ranks second in the NFL with 941 rushing yards.
- Since Week Seven, Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has the second most receiving yards in the NFL.
NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on what Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is doing well right now):
"A lot of things. Obviously he's wired the right way. There's a reason why he was the No. 1 overall pick. Plays with great confidence. We know the skillset. He's got all the intangibles. That team believes him. He can make all the throws. He can extend plays. He's doing a lot of things really well. He's executing. He's spreading the ball around. Guys are making plays for him. Obviously the run game, with any offense, takes some of the pressure off the quarterback, especially a young one. He's big and strong and courageous and tough as damn nails. He'll stand in there and keep his eyes down field. He'll take hits. If he's got to lay it on the line to get the ball across the goal line to win a game, he'll do whatever he has to do. He's playing really good."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on not playing the best Sunday in Atlanta but still escaping with a victory):
"You talk to the team and you say, 'Pull this thing off. Just think if we do this, this and this how good we can be in all three phases.' Take care of the football, you eliminate some penalties, put the fire out on some of the big plays. We played well in every football game, but we've dug some holes obviously that we couldn't get out of. Now, if we can just consistently put it all together and eliminate the self-inflicted negatives, we've got a chance to continue to get better and hopefully stack some wins together and give ourselves a chance to hopefully, maybe get in the tournament. We've got to take it one game at a time and obviously this is the biggest game because it's the next game."
Colts Inside Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson(on the sense of urgency this time of year):
"Around this time, November, this is when the team's that are going to get hot and get over that next hump, you start to separate yourselves. For a while, the AFC South has kind of been the middle of the pack. This is the time the next few weeks we need to make a decision to separate ourselves. Right now, we control our own destiny in our division. You look around the league right now to the Atlantas, the Packers, who started out hot and they're right now trying to find a way to get back to that winning style. I like where we are. All the games that we've won, we've been battle tested. All the games we've lost, we've had a chance to win."
Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith(on Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck):
"Matt Hasselbeck though has played against us, I'm talking about our form of defense, for many years. We go back, of course I remember in Green Bay and when I was a coordinator in St. Louis and he was in Seattle, while the head coach in Chicago when he was with the Titans so he's played against our defense quite a bit. I'm sure things that you have success with you kind of look back through that a little bit. I know he probably feels pretty comfortable playing against a defense like ours."
Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith(on the development of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston):
"I think we've seen his development in all the areas and that does go a little bit with experience and each game you see something different. They are learning experiences that you can't just talk about, they have to go through. We started off the season with a tough loss, he's had to really fight through adversity early on. We had a few games where we turned the ball over a lot. You have to go through all those situations to get where you eventually want to go. Jameis has made great decisions. He's a football junkie as far as his preparation. I've seen him really grow into a leadership role. So everything you want a good quarterback to do, a franchise quarterback to do, we've seen improvements from the time he got here."
Buccaneers Quarterback Jameis Winston(on the transition to the pro game):
"The biggest transition is just putting a game behind you. Week after week you've got to come with your A-game. Even if you have a big game or even if you have a bad game, you can't focus on that. You've got to put that game behind you and move on to the next week."