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Sunday, November 21, 2004 - Page updated at 04:59 P.M.
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Hawks hang on, beat Dolphins 24-17

The Associated Press

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Rookie Michael Boulware saved the game for the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe the season, too.

Boulware intercepted a pass by A.J. Feeley and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown with 56 seconds remaining, lifting the Seahawks to a 24-17 win over the Miami Dolphins today.

It was the fourth time this season Feeley has had an interception returned for a TD, and his mistake spoiled the debut of interim coach Jim Bates.

Feeley was trying to throw to Chris Chambers in the right flat when Boulware, a linebacker in college who moved to strong safety this season, caught the ball in stride and raced down the left sideline.

As he streaked past the Seattle bench, coach Mike Holmgren turned and breathed a huge sigh of relief. With St. Louis (5-5) losing at Buffalo, Seattle (6-4) reclaimed first place in the NFC West.

Feeley, who hobbled for most of the game with an injured right hip, had just led the Dolphins (1-9) on a 48-yard drive in nine plays, and Olindo Mare's 39-yard field goal made it 17-all with 2:20 remaining.

Seattle, which led 17-7 at halftime, was in trouble and the offense — with Trent Dilfer at quarterback because of Matt Hasselbeck's sore right thigh — couldn't answer.

Dilfer was sacked by Jason Taylor and Dario Romero on third down, and Miami got the ball back. But Feeley couldn't finish the comeback.

Seattle's defense wasn't finished. Feeley went back to pass on Miami's final series when Antonio Cochran knocked the ball loose and linebacker Chad Brown picked up the ball and returned it to the 15 with 42 seconds to go.

In one of his first moves after replacing Dave Wannstedt, who resigned Nov. 10, Bates chose Feeley as the starter, hoping a shake-up could spark something to get the Dolphins winning again.

Feeley tied it a 7 in the first quarter when he scrambled for a 7-yard touchdown run. But he limped off the field with a sore right hip after a second-quarter sack.
Jay Fiedler took over but lasted only one series. He sustained a neck stinger when he fumbled on a third-down scramble, and Feeley limped back onto the field for the next Miami series.

Seattle's offense was fine with Dilfer at the controls in the first quarter, but things slowed quickly after that.

Shaun Alexander came in as the NFL's leading rusher with 1,055 yards, and ready to face the league's second-worst team against the run.

Yet Miami held Alexander to 96 yards, snapping his run of three straight 100-yard games. The Dolphins threw him for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1 at midfield with 4:41 to play, setting up the game-tying drive.

The Dolphins pulled to 17-14 early in the second half, when Feeley threw a 16-yard TD pass to Chambers.

Everything was setting up nicely for Miami after the Dolphins forced four punts and Dilfer threw an interception early in the fourth quarter.

That turnover, thrown right into the arms of Patrick Surtain, gave Miami possession at the Seattle 35. Miami was poised to tie it at 17 but Mare missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.

That's the kind of season it's been in Miami. Mare's .825 percentage ranks fourth all-time in NFL career field goal accuracy. This week, he was returning after missing five games with a calf injury.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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