SEATTLE — The Denver Broncos agreed with an officials' critical call that cost them the game.
An illegal motion penalty wiped out a last-second John Elway touchdown pass Sunday night, preserving Seattle's 17-12 victory over the Broncos and keeping the Seahawks alive in the race for a playoff berth.
"It was a good call," Elway said.
Denver receivers Michael Young and Shannon Sharpe were called for the penalty.
"I saw them moving," Elway said. "I waved at them to (stop) where they were, but they didn't."
"The referee (Jim Tunney) said they weren't set for a full count," Denver Coach Dan Reeves said.
"Two men were moving," Tunney said. "They came out of the huddle and never did set. They were in motion."
As time expired, Elway threw a 51-yard pass that Young caught on the back boundary of the end zone. The official covering the play signalled that the catch was good, but a flag had already been thrown in the Denver backfield, negating the play and ending the game.
With 1:36 left, Elway's throw to Young in the end zone was picked off by Seattle's Melvin Jenkins.
When the Seahawks were unable to run out the clock, Denver (4-11) had one more chance with 26 seconds to play. Elway threw two end zone incompletions to Young before hooking up with him on the ill-fated final play.
"That was the longest 26 seconds of my life," Seahawk strong safety Nesby Glasgow said.
Eugene Robinson's interception and 39-yard runback to the Denver 11 set up Derrick Fenner's one-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds late in the third quarter that gave Seattle a 17-12 lead. Dave Krieg passed nine yards to Brian Blades for a first down at the Denver one, and Fenner scored from there.
"The defense really played good," Krieg said. "We had two big interceptions."
The Seahawks (8-7) can go to the playoffs by beating Detroit in the Kingdome next Sunday if Pittsburgh beats Houston or Cleveland beats Cincinnati.
Denver got to the Seattle 28, 40 and 36 on three possessions in the fourth quarter, but each time was turned away.
"Denver always is in it when Elway has the ball," Seahawk cornerback Patrick Hunter said. "He's got great scrambling ability and a great arm. He's such a good player."
Denver went ahead 12-10 with a safety with 3:29 left in the third quarter when the officials called Krieg for intentional grounding while standing in the Seattle end zone. The safety was ruled when Krieg was passing on a third-and-13 with the line of scrimmage at the Seattle seven.
The Seahawks tied the score at 10-10 just 42 seconds before halftime on a five-yard pass from Krieg to Tommy Kane.
Seattle went 60 yards in 10 plays, including a 19-yard run by Krieg to the Denver 14.
Defensive end David Galloway of the Broncos and offensive tackle Ronnie Lee of the Seahawks were ejected for fighting after Krieg completed a seven-yard pass to the Bronco two. Denver cornerback Alton Montgomery was thrown out on the same play for ripping Paul Skansi's helmet off. Officials ruled Montgomery deliberately tried to injure Skansi.
Denver took a 10-3 lead at 12:11 of the second quarter after Dennis Smith intercepted a Krieg pass and returned it 13 yards to the Seattle 27. The Broncos scored six plays later on a one-yard run by Bobby Humphrey.
David Treadwell of the Broncos kicked a 49-yard field goal and the Seahawks' Norm Johnson kicked a 21-yarder in the opening quarter.
Treadwell was short on a 50-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. He also was wide to the right with a 45-yard field goal try with 9:26 left with Seattle in front 17-12.