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Another blown call
Vinny's late TD run pushes Jets past Seahawks 32-31
Posted: Sunday December 06, 1998 09:17 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) -- On a day when he nearly wore out his arm, Vinny Testaverde used his legs to lift the New York Jets to a wild comeback victory. And in this season of officiating bobbles, Testaverde got a kind boost from the head linesman.
A boost? Some say a gift.
"People told me it looked like it wasn't in," Testaverde said after his 5-yard sneak on fourth down with 20 seconds left Sunday was ruled a touchdown, giving the Jets a 32-31 decision over the Seattle Seahawks. "I got knocked around and sometimes you can't see the refs. There were a lot of questions whether I was in or not, which is all the more reason for instant replay."
Television replays showed he didn't reach the end zone.
"It makes you sick," Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson said. After being informed what the replay indicated, he added, "It makes you even sicker."
The Jets' AFC East championship hopes are healthy thanks to the last-minute call. Testaverde called his own number after throwing a career-high 63 times, completing 42 for 418 yards and two TDs.
And head linesman Earnie Frantz immediately signaled the AFC's leading passer had won the game with his run.
"He called it right away and signaled," said referee Phil Luckett, who also conducted the now-infamous coin toss on Thanksgiving Day at Detroit. "There was a pileup, but the head linesman had already called a touchdown for the ball breaking the plane [of the goal line]."
Seahawks cornerback Shawn Springs wondered if the officials had been "intimidated."
"The refs should really let the players decide the game," Springs said. "Don't make a call that determines the outcome."
It was New York's sixth straight home victory and kept it atop the AFC East at 9-4. It was constructed by the league's sixth-ranked offense, which committed three turnovers, but had the moxie to overcome them.
"That's certainly many more passes than I've thrown in a game," Testaverde said. "I hope there aren't many games like this, where I have to throw 60 times."
Testaverde found Keyshawn Johnson nine times for 114 yards and the touchdown that closed the Jets to 31-26. He calmly led them downfield on their final drive, and drove a stake in the playoff hopes of the Seahawks (6-7).
"It's hard to fight like we did and lose like that," defensive end Mike Croel said. "Now our chance to go to the playoffs probably went out the window."
Before the late offensive heroics, the Jets were victimized by Seattle's big plays.
Joey Galloway burned Aaron Glenn, New York's best cover cornerback, on almost identical first-quarter TDs. He ran under Jon Kitna's 70-yard pass to tie the game at 7. Then Galloway, one of the NFL's fastest receivers, beat Glenn on a 57-yard TD bomb.
He couldn't do it again in the second quarter, but the Jets fared even worse, because Glenn sprained his right ankle while making a leaping interception.
Galloway's first score came after safety Jerome Henderson's fumble while returning an interception. Ricky Watters broke a 39-yard run on fourth-and-1 to make it 21-10 following Kyle Brady's fumble on a 25-yard reception.
The Jets opened the scoring after recovering Kitna's fumbled snap at the New York 42. Testaverde found Keith Byars alone in the end zone for a 3-yard score on fourth down.
John Hall added two 20-yard field goals, making it 21-13 at halftime.
Anthony Simmons, a first-round draftee from Clemson, picked off Testaverde's sloppy pass and rambled into the end zone on the fourth play of the second half.
That put the Jets into a semi-desperate mode, and they threw on the first 10 plays of a 13-play drive. Curtis Martin finally ran in from the 1, but Fred Baxter tripped and dropped a 2-point conversion pass.
Seattle responded again on Todd Peterson's 50-yard field goal, making it 31-19.
When the Jets put together a 66-yard drive on which Johnson caught a 16-yard TD pass -- he also had an 18-yard reception on fourth-and-3 -- it set up the tight finish.
New York drove to the Seattle 3 before rookie tackle Jason Fabini's 5-yard motion penalty. The Jets got to the 5 on fourth down, from where Testaverde ran behind center Kevin Mawae, a former Seahawk, for the TD that maybe wasn't.
"The linesman thought Vinny was in," Mawae said. "He threw his arms up and we win."
The Jets hadn't won six straight at home since 1985 ... Testaverde's 42 completion tied for the most in NFL history in a regulation game with former Jets QB Richard Todd. New England's Drew Bledsoe hit 45 passes in an overtime game in 1994 ... Simmons' TD return was the seventh on an interception by the Seahawks this season, two short of San Diego's record in 1969 ... Galloway's two long touchdown catches were his only receptions ... In addition to Glenn's sprained ankle, Jets FB Keith Byars broke his right arm. Seattle's Willie Williams injured his arch, while center Chris Gray suffered an undisclosed knee injury.
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