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Seahawks Get the Last Laugh in a Bit of Gallows Humor

Brown's field goal in overtime gives Seattle a 24-21 victory after Feely misses three field-goal tries for the New York Giants.

November 28, 2005|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — Spared the executioner three consecutive times, the Seattle Seahawks came away with a 24-21 victory in overtime Sunday that figured to be pivotal in their quest for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The executioner, meanwhile, had some explaining to do.

Kicker Jay Feely stood in the visitors' locker room and apologized to his New York Giant teammates after missing field-goal attempts of 40, 54 and 45 yards -- the first with four seconds remaining in regulation, the next two in overtime -- each of which could have handed the Seahawks (9-2) their first home defeat.

"I just got up and said that I was sorry and, 'I let you guys down,' " said Feely, who began the game ranked No. 2 in field-goal accuracy in the NFL this season. "People are going to say that it's a team game ... but the fact of the matter is you have to come through when you have the opportunity."

It was Seattle kicker Josh Brown who wound up clinching the victory with a 36-yard field goal that punctuated the Seahawks' third possession in the extra period.

Three of the Giants' four losses were by a field goal late in the game or in overtime -- to Dallas, Minnesota and Seattle.

Ugly or not, the skin-of-their-teeth thriller looked just fine to the Seahawks, who maintained the best record in the NFC and a four-game lead in the division. They could have clinched the NFC West on Sunday had St. Louis not pulled out an overtime victory at Houston. As it is, Seattle is virtually assured of a postseason berth -- 97% of the teams that started 9-2 in the Super Bowl era made the playoffs.

"Nobody gave up," said guard Steve Hutchinson of the Seahawks, who began the game with the league's No. 1 offense. "That's the difference between this team and teams from the past. We are not going to accept 'no.' We did not play anywhere near our best game. The defense played their butts off for the entire night against a very good offense, and we struggled a little bit. We covered for each other, and that's what a team does."

Through the better part of four quarters, the Seahawks appeared to have a comfortable lead. They got two touchdowns from receiver Joe Jurevicius and one from running back Shaun Alexander, who twisted across the goal line for a 21-13 lead with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.

But the Giants (7-4) responded with a score-tying touchdown and conversion pass, then -- after an ensuing three and out by Seattle -- still had time for a 40-yard try by Feely. At that point, he had made 25 of 27 field-goal tries this season, second to Arizona's Neil Rackers, and had made all five of his attempts between 40 and 49 yards. This one sailed left and was just wide.

That was Strike 1. After Strikes 2 and 3, both of which fell short, the roaring crowd shook Qwest Field to its pilings. The noise bothered the Giants throughout; they committed a staggering 11 false-start penalties, a performance Coach Tom Coughlin deemed "ridiculous."

During one stretch, the Giants had five false starts in eight snaps. Left tackle Luke Petitgout finished with five; left guard David Diehl had three.

"A lot of times I couldn't hear anything," Diehl said. "I was right next to [quarterback] Eli [Manning], and I couldn't hear him.... This is the loudest it's been, and there's nothing you can say, nothing you can do. There's no excuse for it."

Petitgout took it a step further: "I embarrassed my team and my family -- everybody."

With eight penalties, the Seahawks were flagged half as many times as New York. That's not to say, though, that Seattle was a well-oiled machine. The Seahawks were sporadic in their passing game and, during one stretch, were three and out seven consecutive times. But quarterback Matt Hasselbeck came through when he had to, doing so in a huge way on the game-winning drive by connecting with D.J. Hackett for 38 yards on second and 21.

"I thought we really could do much better than we were today," said Hasselbeck, who added that the Giants were the best defense Seattle has faced. "I know that will get fixed."

Much as they loathe looking past their next game, the Seahawks have a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Take away their Christmas Eve game at home against Indianapolis, and they don't face another powerhouse team. Their remaining opponents other than the Colts -- Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tennessee and Green Bay -- are a combined 12-32.

This could be the season the Seahawks end their postseason drought. They are 0-3 in the playoffs under Coach Mike Holmgren.

"I do believe that this is our year," said Alexander, whose 110 yards rushing were second to the 151 of New York's Tiki Barber. "We've been playing every game like our back's against the wall, and that's the attitude we have to have. We almost have to be desperate and not take losing as an option."

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