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Seahawks still don't know playoff fate

12/28/2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Seattle Seahawks' bench practically
exploded when Jeff Garcia skipped a fourth-down pass off the turf
at midfield with 1:06 left. Several Seahawks charged onto the field
waving their helmets, and several others threw most of their
uniforms into the crowd in celebration.

The Seahawks' 24-17 victory over San Francisco on Saturday
earned them a chance at the playoffs -- and an uneasy Sunday of
waiting.

Matt Hasselbeck passed for 315 yards and threw scoring passes to
Koren Robinson and Alex Bannister to keep the Seahawks' postseason
hopes alive.

Seattle's first win in San Francisco since 1979 wasn't pretty,
with both teams struggling to move the ball on a chilly day at
Candlestick Park. But Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander came up with
just enough big plays to give the Seahawks (10-6) their second road
victory of the season and a sweep of the 49ers in 2003.

Now the Seahawks need Minnesota to lose at Arizona, or Denver to
beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Seattle also could get
in if Dallas loses at New Orleans, kicking off a complicated
scenario that would eliminate the Packers.

"You win, and you give yourself a chance to go to the
playoffs," said Alexander, who rushed for 60 of his 85 yards in
the fourth quarter. "I thought, 'I can't let this opportunity slip
away to do something this organization hasn't done for a long
time."

The Seahawks haven't made the playoffs since coach Mike
Holmgren's first season in 1999, but they're ready to end that
frustration with consecutive season-ending victories over NFC West
rivals Arizona and San Francisco.

"We needed to win the last two to have a chance," Holmgren
said. "They did what I asked them to do. Now it's out of our
hands. I told the fellas if they don't normally go to church, I
want them in church tomorrow. I hope we get a chance to keep
playing."

Jed Weaver and Cedrick Wilson caught TD passes from Garcia for
the 49ers (7-9), who wrapped up just their third losing season
since 1983 with a roundly dismal effort.

San Francisco dropped just its second home game of the season
with a non-existent rushing game and a fragile defense that
couldn't stop Hasselbeck or Alexander.

"The future is really unclear right now," said Garcia, who was
22-of-38 for 248 yards. "It's really going to be up to the
management side of things. The nature of the business is that
things are going to change."

The Seahawks went ahead 21-17 late in the third on Robinson's
diving 30-yard TD catch, which was upheld after review. Robinson
had six catches for 85 yards.

After several minutes of ineffective offense for both teams, the
Seahawks made a pounding 70-yard drive centered on Alexander.
Seattle handed off to Alexander on nine of the 13 plays on the
drive, which ended with Josh Brown's 33-yard field goal with 1:56
left to clinch the franchise's first 10-win season in 17 years.

"The things we were doing were stupid mistakes, and very
correctable," Hasselbeck said. "Nobody lost their mind, and
everybody kept their calm."

After three straight outstanding offensive performances, the
49ers struggled into the offseason. Garcia missed open receivers
and settled for the short passes that caused San Francisco fans to
boo the home team repeatedly.

"We just had a lot of injuries this season, and we never
overcame them," said left tackle Derrick Deese, the
longest-tenured San Francisco player. "We just got some unlucky
breaks. Hopefully guys will start working out early and remember
this bitter taste we have in our mouth right now."

The teams traded punts until the second quarter, when San
Francisco scored on Garcia's 18-yard tipped pass to Weaver.

After linebacker Jeff Ulbrich intercepted another tipped pass,
the 49ers scored again when Wilson caught a short pass and reached
the end zone untouched.

Seattle finally woke up for two scores in the final six minutes
before halftime. Bannister made a 31-yard TD catch, and Alexander
ran for a tying 3-yard score with 54 seconds left.

Game notes
Hasselbeck also broke Warren Moon's season franchise record
for passing yards during the first half. He finished with 3,841
yards passing. ... The 49ers lost CB Ahmed Plummer to a neck
injury, and Seattle OG Chris Gray was out with a knee injury. ...
The 49ers played without star WR Terrell Owens, who broke his
collarbone in last week's win over Philadelphia. Wearing a tan suit
and a sling on his left arm, Owens greeted each of his teammates as
they ran onto the field for pregame introductions.