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Hawks hang on to beat Vikings
The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS - The Seattle Seahawks finally figured out how to finish a game, and left the Minnesota Vikings desperately searching for a better way to finish their season.
Michael Boulware intercepted an ill-advised pass by Randy Moss in the end zone just before the 2-minute warning, allowing the Seahawks to hang on for a wild 27-23 victory over the Vikings on Sunday.
"It's nice to be on the winning end of one of these for a change," said Matt Hasselbeck, whose three first-half touchdown passes proved to be enough for Seattle (7-6). The Seahawks' fourth win in the last 10 games gave their playoff hopes a big boost in the diluted NFC.
Meanwhile, Minnesota (7-6) lost for the fifth time in seven games and watched its own postseason plans take a hit.
"Disappointment is the only word I can think of," said defensive end Lance Johnstone.
Moss, who caught four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, rolled right on a reverse handoff from Daunte Culpepper on a first-and-10 at the Seattle 20. Near the sideline with a defender closing in, Moss floated a pass into the back of the end zone, where Marcus Robinson was covered by two Seahawks.
"I take responsibility for calling that play," Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "I wish I could have it back. That's life."
Moss declined comment. Culpepper refused to second guess.
"We'd love to have that play back, but we can't," Culpepper said.
After Boulware's interception, Minnesota managed to force a punt and get the ball back at its 10 with 44 seconds left and no timeouts. A 36-yard pass to Moss and an offside call on Seattle while Culpepper spiked the ball gave the Vikings possession at the Seahawks 28 for one last try with 4 seconds left.
Culpepper scrambled right and appeared to be sacked by Antonio Cochran, but the play wasn't stopped and a heave into the end zone was nearly caught by Jermaine Wiggins as the game ended.
That's the same thing Minnesota was saying down the hall.
Though they're now just one game above .500 after starting the season 5-1 and still haunted by last year's 3-7 collapse following a 6-0 start, the Vikings still are very much alive with four of the six playoff spots up for grabs and 10 teams in this dismal conference sporting losing records.
"We're right there in the mix of it," said strong safety Corey Chavous.
Shaun Alexander ran 27 times for 112 yards to go with a touchdown reception for the Seahawks, who wasted a double-digit fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Dallas last week and did the same in an overtime defeat to St. Louis on Oct. 10 that started their tailspin.
The bad news for Seattle was that defensive end Grant Wistrom hurt his left knee in the fourth quarter and had to be helped off the field. Coach Mike Holmgren said the prognosis wasn't good. Wistrom, who signed a $33 million, six-year contract in the offseason, missed four games earlier with the injury.
Hasselbeck finished with 334 yards passing, but threw two interceptions that led to 10 Minnesota points and made a handful of inaccurate throws on crucial plays.
Culpepper wasn't great, either, especially after halftime. He finished with 270 yards and no interceptions, but the Vikings failed to take advantage of several opportunities their maligned defense provided them after a miserable first half.
Jerry Rice caught five passes for 52 yards for the Seahawks, all in the second half, and Darrell Jackson had 10 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown after learning in the morning his father had died of cancer. Jackson joined the team late Saturday night after spending the day with his dad in Florida.
"It wasn't a tough decision to play," he said. "It's what my father would've wanted."
Seattle led 21-20 after a first half dominated by awful pass coverage by both teams, mostly Minnesota. Then the ball stopped moving after halftime.
The Seahawks, leading 24-23, got a huge break when Culpepper and Onterrio Smith fumbled a handoff and Rashad Moore recovered at the Vikings 26. Josh Brown kicked a 28-yard field goal to bump the lead to four points with 3:40 remaining.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company