Upon further review, Hawks lose

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Monday, October 2, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By SCOTT M. JOHNSON

Herald Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Divine intervention it was not.

This one came straight from a less forgiving judge: technological advancement.

The Seattle Seahawks, who seemed to have the football gods smiling on them on so many other Monday nights, took a bolt of lightning against the Kansas City Chiefs, losing 24-17 after giving up 17 unanswered points in the final 17 minutes.

A call overturned by instant replay midway through the fourth quarter seemed to take away any momentum the Seahawks may have built up on Monday Night Football, and eventually may have cost them the game. Kansas City scored on a 15-yard run by Mike Cloud with 4:26 remaining on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.

It was the first loss on MNF since 1987 for the Seahawks, who fell to 2-3 on the season and 13-6 all-time in Monday appearances.

Seattle had built up a 10-point lead early in the second half before Kansas City (3-2) fought back to tie the score at 17 on a Pete Stoyanovich field goal with 11:42 remaining.

Five minutes later, with the score still tied, Seattle appeared to be putting together a drive of its own. But an apparent first down reception by tight end Christian Fauria on third-and-2 was challenged by Kansas City, and eventually overturned after officials watched a replay. The ruling of an incomplete pass meant Seattle had to punt the ball away.

“One official, when they were showing the replay, was standing there shaking his head no,” Fauria said afterward. “I knew right then they weren’t going to count it.

“I still don’t know how they could (overturn) it. I guess I’ll have to check it out later. Damn the instant replay.”

Fauria’s non-catch, which came with just over six minutes remaining in a tie game, not only cost the Seahawks a first down, it also seemed to take away any momentum they had gained back.

The Chiefs (3-2) went 51 yards in four plays on the ensuing drive, eventually scoring the go-ahead touchdown when Cloud – who entered the game with a 2.0 yards-per-carry average – broke a 15-yard run around the left end.

Seattle’s spirit seemed to be broken, and a penalty and 11-yard sack on the Seahawks’ next possession put them out of position to come back. One final drive, which started at the Seattle 30 with less than a minute to go, ended when Kansas City safety Jerome Woods intercepted a Jon Kitna pass with 52 seconds remaining.

Seattle entered the game with all sorts of streaks on the line, winning its last two overall, three in a row against Kansas City and its past five Monday Night appearances. All of those came to an end in a game that seemed to favor the Seahawks from the start.

After the Chiefs missed a field goal on the opening drive of the game, Seattle drove the length of the field with a lot of help from Kansas City. Six penalties by the Chiefs, including three inside the Kansas City 10-yard line, helped the Seahawks get to the 1 before Kitna hit tight end Itula Mili for a touchdown. It was the fourth consecutive game in which the Seahawks scored on their opening drive.

Kansas City tied the score in the second quarter, as quarterback Elvis Grbac completed all five of his pass attempts during an eight-play, 72-yard drive. Grbac hit Derrick Alexander for a 32-yard completion over Willie Williams, then threw a perfect pass to Tony Gonzalez between defenders George Koonce and Reggie Tongue for a 15-yard touchdown.

The Seahawks were quick to respond, using a weapon that had already stung the Chiefs once. Running back Shaun Alexander, whom Kansas City probably would have taken with the 21st overall pick in the April draft if Seattle hadn’t nabbed him one pick earlier, sparked the Seahawks by scoring the go-ahead touchdown just before halftime.

Alexander, by design playing the entire third offensive series to give starter Ricky Watters a rest, carried six times for 55 yards and a 7-yard touchdown on the 13-play scoring drive. It was by far the best performance of the season for Alexander, who scored his first NFL touchdown and ended up with 74 yards on 11 carries – 55 yards more than his previous best effort at the professional level.

Seattle padded its lead in the third quarter, when Rian Lindell connected on his first NFL field goal, from 27 yards out, putting the Seahawks ahead 17-7 with 6:24 remaining in the third quarter. It was the last time Seattle would put points on the board.

Grbac struck again, with two throws so perfect that they victimized Seattle cornerback Shawn Springs in tight coverage on Derrick Alexander. The first completion went for 73 yards after a Jeff Feagles punt had pinned Kansas City at its own 5. Two plays later, Grbac hit Derrick Alexander in stride between Springs and safety Jay Bellamy for a 17-yard touchdown to pull the Chiefs within 17-14 with 2:15 to go in the third quarter.

Stoyanovich capped a 10-play drive with a 27-yard field goal 5 1/2 minutes later to pull the Chiefs even.

The game took a definite turn in Kansas City’s favor on the instant replay challenge with 6:08 remaining. The call on the field was a first down after Fauria made a diving catch at the first-down marker on third-and-2. But Kansas City, with its final timeout at risk, challenged the ruling. After about four minutes during which an official looked at the instant replay, the call was overturned because the ball looked as if it may have hit the ground.

“I’m positive I did,” Fauria said when asked if he caught the ball. “There’s no doubt in my mind I did.”

Making the instant replay even more crucial was the fact that it would have cost Kansas City its final timeout if it was not overturned.

“I had a perfect view of it,” Chiefs defensive lineman Eric Hicks said. “I saw that he caught it, but then it bounced off his leg, then the ground, before he caught it again. So I was yelling at the bench to challenge because I knew it wasn’t a catch.”

Seattle punted the ball away, and Kansas City drove 51 yards in four plays to win the game.

“If you’re a really good football team, you kind of make your own breaks,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said afterward.

On past Monday nights, Seattle got plenty of breaks. This time around, it didn’t work out that way.

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