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Sunday, October 24, 2004 - Page updated at 10:39 P.M.
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Desert meltdown: Hawks clipped by Cardinals, 25-17

The Associated Press

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TEMPE, Ariz. Emmitt Smith ran his way to another NFL record and Neil Rackers booted himself into a share of one.

Smith sealed Arizona's 25-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks today with a 23-yard scoring run, breaking Walter Payton's record with 78 career touchdowns rushing.

Rackers was good from 55, 55 and 50 yards to tie Morten Andersen's record for most field goals of at least 50 yards in a game. Gerald Hayes blocked a Seattle punt for a safety for the decisive points.

Matt Hasselbeck completed just 14 of 41 passes and was intercepted four times and the Seahawks (3-3) lost their third in a row and blew a chance to take sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

Smith, who broke Payton's career rushing yardage mark two years ago, gained 106 yards on 26 carries, his second 100-yard effort in three games.

Rackers kicked two 55-yarders in the second quarter and hit a 50-yarder in the third to tie the record set by Andersen for Atlanta against New Orleans on Dec. 10, 1995.

In fact, all four field goals in the game were from beyond 50; Josh Brown kicked one from 54 yards for Seattle's only points in the first half.

Arizona (2-4) led 16-3 after Rackers' 50-yarder in the third quarter. The Cardinals hadn't played since blowing a 16-point lead with 5 minutes left in regulation in San Francisco two weeks ago — and they almost let this one get away, too.

Shaun Alexander's 34-yard run helped set up Hasselbeck's 1-yard TD pass to Darrell Jackson to cut the lead to 16-10. Then Ken Lucas intercepted Josh McCown's overthrown pass and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown to put Seattle up 17-16.

Arizona forced the Seahawks to punt from their 12, and Hayes broke loose from outside to block Tom Rouen's attempt. Rouen sprawled out on the field to knock the ball out of the end zone for a safety and prevent a touchdown, and the Cardinals led 18-17 with 8:50 remaining.

The Seahawks had the ball three more times, but couldn't move. Duane Starks' interception gave Arizona the ball on the Seattle 24 and, on third down, Smith slipped through for the touchdown that made it 25-17.
Today's game marked the first time in 20 years the NFL's career yardage leaders in receiving and rushing opposed each other. Only one of them, Smith, had an impact.

Jerry Rice, acquired by the Seahawks from Oakland on Tuesday, caught just one pass for 10 yards.

McCown completed 22 of 36 for 212 yards and a touchdown.

After Renaldo Hill intercepted Hasselbeck's pass at the Seattle 43, McCown lofted a 25-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald, who made the catch despite good coverage for an early 7-0 lead.

Arizona later gambled on fourth-and-1 at the Seattle 37. McCown faked a running play, but was sacked by Chike Okeafor for an 11-yard loss. The turnaround led to Brown's 54-yard field goal.

Rackers did Brown a yard better on Arizona's next possession, clearing the crossbar by about 5 yards to make it 10-3.

On Seattle's first play after the subsequent kickoff, Calvin Pace deflected Hasselbeck's pass and Karlos Dansby intercepted at the Seahawks'40. That set up Rackers' second 55-yarder, a line drive that cleared the crossbar by no more than 2 yards.

Smith's 26-yard run was the big play that set up Rackers' third field goal, from a mere 50 yards in the third quarter.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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