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Originally published October 24, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 24, 2005 at 2:23 PM

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Steve Kelley

Self-assured Seahawks feeling different now

Grown men acted as silly as pre-schoolers. The noise sounded like a recess gone terribly wrong. They were celebrating the franchise's most improbable comeback since the days of Chuck Knox...

Seattle Times staff columnist

Grown men acted as silly as pre-schoolers. The noise sounded like a recess gone terribly wrong. Shrieks and bellows oozed from behind the Seahawks' closed locker-room doors like champagne.

They were celebrating the franchise's most improbable comeback since the days of Chuck Knox and the Kingdome and the noise in this large, comfortable dressing room underneath Qwest Field sounded as foreign as hip hop in Carnegie Hall.

This win, this 13-10 Houdini act over the Dallas Cowboys, was the one that didn't get away. It was a win that told a team, a city and a nation full of skeptics that these Seahawks were different.

"A lot of pent up stuff got released," Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck said. "Big sweaty guys were hugging each other. A lot of tears. A lot of screaming. A lot of guys jumping around. A lot of high fives. This is what winning the big one feels like. And this was a big game."

These are the wins that break the cycle. Championship teams win these games on their way into January.

These are the gut-clutching comeback games that have victimized all of the other Seahawks teams. The games that left them shell-shocked and grasping for lost confidence. Games that ruined seasons.

"I've never been in a game like this before," said Hawks receiver Joe Jurevicius, who won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay. "Are you kidding me?"

For 58 minutes, the Seahawks' offense — statistically the best in the NFL — looked like dead men walking.

Receivers couldn't break free from the physical Cowboys corners. The league's best runner, Shaun Alexander, couldn't find even a sliver of daylight.

The other recent Seahawks teams never solved the riddle of a game this taut. They never made plays. They never came back against a team this good. They didn't have that something, something Super Bowl contenders have.

"The last few years, we've been in these games and we haven't been on the right side of them," Tobeck said. "I'm glad we got over that hump today."

Championship teams find ways out of the quagmire. They steal wins. They make plays even on a misty afternoon when nothing was working.

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"It's hard to articulate," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "It's a feeling now that things are just different than they have been here in the past. I know that a lot of us have taken pride in being a Seahawk and taken pride in our job and what we do. But it's a little bit different now."

Remember these fourth-quarter plays that emerged from this gloomy looking Sunday. These are the plays that tell you these are not the same old Seahawks.

Defensive end Grant Wistrom sacked Drew Bledsoe on a third-and-goal at the Seattle 6. The sack was the prologue to Jose Cortez's yanked 29-yard field-goal attempt.

Linebacker D.D. Lewis cracked Bledsoe 3 yards from the goal line, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a field goal with 2:06 to play that kept the game alive.

Alexander finally ripped through the Cowboys' arm tackles for 11 yards. Then wideout D. J. Hackett, a veteran of all of four NFL games, caught a tip-toeing 13-yard pass that landed him out of bounds at the 1.

And backup tight end Ryan Hannum who has fought through knee injuries for two seasons, caught the game-tying touchdown pass with 1:26 to go.

"What we have to do is realize we have potential here and we do have a special football team here," Jurevicius said. "Obviously you have to win games like this.

"You're supposed to win the games you're supposed to win and you're supposed to win the tough games. The camaraderie on this football team, I think is pretty solid. We feed off each other and I think the potential really is the sky."

With 14 seconds left, nickelback Jordan Babineaux read Bledsoe's eyes like a retina scanner, intercepted a pass and ran 25 yards, giving the Seahawks a field goal's chance at a win.

And finally, Josh Brown, who missed his last walk-off field goal attempt in Washington three weeks ago, slugs a no-doubt 50-yarder on the last play of a remarkable, inexplicable afternoon.

"I've always believed the good teams win the close games," Tobeck said. "When I was in Atlanta, the year before we went to the Super Bowl, we were in a lot of close games, but we lost them by three or four points. The year I went to the Super Bowl we were in a lot of close games and we won them.

"It's a fine line, the difference between winning and losing, and you have to win these games. It gives you confidence. It gives you momentum. A win like this takes the question away of whether we can do it. We've done it now."

And the noise spilling out of the locker room said the players believe they can do it again.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

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