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Up-and-downer: Cowboys come back to sting Hawks
Seattle Times staff reporter
This time it was someone else's turn to collapse. Or so everyone at Qwest Field thought. And hoped.
It was time for someone else to give up a big lead in the second half, the way the Seahawks had in losses to the Baltimore Ravens in 2003 and the St. Louis Rams this season.
The Dallas Cowboys fell apart. The Seahawks rallied from a 15-point deficit behind quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's best game of the season and then watched it all come crashing down with another fourth-quarter collapse of their own.
Two Dallas touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game were the difference in the Cowboys' 43-39 win last night.
Quarterback Vinny Testaverde hit Keyshawn Johnson on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:45 left, and rookie Julius Jones ran 17 yards for the winning score with 32 seconds left.
"I haven't been around too many like that," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "We feel fortunate to win. Guys just didn't give up."
"I thought I wouldn't have to go through the Rams game all over again," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "This wasn't quite as bad, but it hurts just as much."
It came before the largest crowd in Qwest Field history (68,093) and millions watching "Monday Night Football" to see if the Seahawks could still be considered a playoff contender.
At 6-6, the Seahawks still are. Somehow. They now must find a way to pull themselves together over the season's final four games.
They had this one, though.
Josh Brown's field goal cut Dallas' lead to 29-17 with 3:01 left in third quarter. An interception by Terreal Bierria gave the Seahawks the ball early in the fourth quarter. That possession produced Shaun Alexander's 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal with 9:30 to play.
The Seahawks' defense forced a punt. Then Hasselbeck hit Jerry Rice for 33 yards and Jerheme Urban for a 19-yard touchdown, and the two-point conversion pass to Darrell Jackson gave the Seahawks a 32-29 lead.
Qwest Field was rocking. The Seahawks weren't done. Neither was Dallas.
The Seahawks turned Ken Hamlin's interception into another fourth-down touchdown run by Alexander, from 32 yards.
The Seahawks seemed to have the win in hand, leading 39-29 with 2:46 to play. But the Cowboys had some magic left.
In the end, the Seahawks' last-ditch effort, a Hail Mary pass from Hasselbeck into the end zone on the final play, fell incomplete.
The Seahawks had a win in their sights, even though Alexander was held to eight first-quarter rushing yards. Even though young receiver Urban was stripped of the ball after a big gain. Even though Hasselbeck, who passed for 414 yards, fumbled a snap on fourth-and-inches that became a turnover.
All three players atoned for those mistakes. To no avail.
Seattle dominated the opening quarter by making good things happen in their biggest problem areas.
The game began with something the Seahawks had not done well in several weeks: a quick special-teams tackle by Isaiah Kacyvenski for a short kickoff return by the Cowboys.
That set up a five-play drive for a touchdown, with Hasselbeck rolling out on third-and-one and throwing the ball into the end zone. Mr. Monday Night, Rice, hauled in the touchdown from 27 yards despite being interfered with.
The Cowboys responded, led by a 53-yard burst off the left side by Jones. Billy Cundiff's 39-yard field goal put Dallas on the board.
The Seahawks, who had been struggling to convert on third down, picked up three on their next possession. One was a 35-yard pass to Jackson to set up the Seahawks at the Dallas 2. Jackson caught the next pass from Hasselbeck, a 2-yard bullet over the middle in the back of the end zone that gave the Seahawks a 14-3 lead.
As quickly as it had come together, it unraveled. Dallas scored 26 unanswered points.
The Cowboys' fortunes turned for the better when Cundiff's 49-yard field goal bounced off the left upright and over the crossbar to make the score 14-6.
When the Seahawks got the ball back, Hasselbeck hit Urban for 17 yards. But the Cowboys' Terence Newman stripped the ball out of Urban's hands after the catch, and Lynn Scott returned the fumble 26 yards.
The Cowboys needed to go just 39 yards, which they did with ease. Testaverde hit Terrance Copper for a 10-yard touchdown, and Seattle led 14-12 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Hasselbeck botched a snap on fourth-and-inches on Seattle's next drive, and Jones' 8-yard touchdown run ended a 59-yard drive by Dallas.
With Dallas ahead 19-14, Alexander fumbled on the second play of the second half. Two plays later, Jones ran into the end zone from 10 yards. Jones finished with 30 carries for 198 yards.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company