Posted: Sunday December 19, 1999 10:19 PM
DENVER (Ticker) -- One play after overthrowing Joey Galloway for a potential touchdown in overtime, Jon Kitna fumbled away the game to the Denver Broncos.
Linebacker Glenn Cadrez returned a fumble by Kitna 37 yards for a touchdown 2:43 into overtime as the Denver Broncos blew a 10-point lead in the final minute of regulation before recovering for a dramatic 36-30 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Kitna fumbled after he was drilled by blitzing cornerback Ray Crockett. Cadrez scooped up the ball and raced untouched for the winning score.
"We both came on a blitz from the outside," Cadrez said. "I heard the hit and turned around to look for the ball and there it was. I said I was going to scoop it and get this game over with."
"It was a great call. Greg Robinson (defensive coordinator) said the only way we were going to win was to keep the pressure on," Crockett said. "I tried to scoop the ball when I saw it on the ground, but I'm glad Glenn was there to pick it up for touchdown."
It was the second time in NFL history that a game was won in the extra session by a fumble return. Johnnie Cooks returned a fumble 52 yards for a score for Baltimore in overtime against New England on September 4, 1983.
One play before Cadrez's return, the Seahawks had a chance to win it but Kitna overthrew a wide-open Galloway, who had gotten behind the Denver defense.
The Seahawks (8-6) suffered their fourth straight loss and fell one game behind first-place Kansas City in the AFC West.
Seattle, which beat the Chiefs earlier this season, host them next week.
"I think it was a heck of a ballgame," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. "I am sure proud the way that the Seahawks battled back, especially when they score 10 points at the end.
It tells me a lot about them."
Kitna talked about if he felt the team has been jinxed during their losing streak.
"That's garbage. I don't believe in stuff like that," he said.
"It's hocus pocus. I believe you create your own luck and own opportunites, and right now we're not doing that.
It did not look like the game would even reach overtime after Brian Griese found tight end Dwayne Carswell with a nine-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 left to put Denver ahead, 30-20.
But working against a prevent defense, Kitna needed just three plays and 53 seconds to take the Seahawks 55 yards. He drilled a 36-yard scoring strike to Sean Dawkins with 54 seconds left to cut the deficit to three.
Seattle defensive back Kerry Joseph recovered the ensuing onsides kick on the Broncos 42, giving Seattle hope. Kitna moved his team 31 yards and Todd Peterson, who missed three field goals in the fourth quarter of last week's 19-16 loss against San Diego, sent the game into overtime with a 45-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining.
Rookie Olandis Gary rushed for 183 yards on 22 carries for the defending two-time Super Bowl champion Broncos, who have already been eliminated from postseason contention.
"I told them they were trying to kill me," said Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "I really think they're trying to kill me.
I called them out after the game but on the serious side, it's always tough."
Gary's total set a Broncos rookie record, surpassing Terrell Davis' mark of 176, established on November 19, 1995 against San Diego. Ironically, Gary is filling in for Davis, who suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in Week Four.
Trailing by six in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks appeared to go ahead when Kitna found Dawkins with a nine-yard TD pass with 3:49 remaining. But because of the noise factor at Mile High Stadium, Kitna did not get the play off in time.
On the very next play, Kitna again found Dawkins wide open in the end zone, but he dropped the ball. Peterson kicked a 32-yard field goal that cut the Broncos lead to 23-20 with 3:41 to go.
It then looked like Denver had salted the game away in regulation when Gary ran 71 yards to the Seattle 14. Three plays later, Griese found Carswell with a nine-yard TD pass for a 30-20 lead.
Griese completed 20-of-39 passes for 180 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had 52 yards rushing on four attempts.
Things started off like they ended for Seattle. Rookie Chris Watson brought back a punt 81 yards for a touchdown 2:09 into the contest, giving the Broncos the early lead.
Kitna quickly directed a four-play, 68-yard drive that he capped with a 16-yard scoring strike to Mike Pritchard.
Kitna completed 22-of-42 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and was not intercepted.
The Broncos took the lead back with under six minutes left in the quarter when Griese connected with Rod Smith on a 14-yard TD pass. Smith finished with seven receptions for 82 yards.
After Jason Elam kicked a 28-yard field goal to put the Broncos up by 10, the Seahawks answered back and pulled within 17-14 on Ricky Watters' one-yard touchdown run with 4:07 to play before halftime.
Watters finished with 115 yards on 16 carries. It was his fourth 100-yard game this season and the 29th of his career.
Elam kicked field goals of 46 and 33 yards around a 40-yarder by Peterson in the third quarter, giving Denver a 23-17 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Dawkins had five receptions for 88 yards and Mayes four catches for 70.
"We shocked everybody when we almost made it happen," Dawkins said. "We could have if we would have kept the ball in our possession. It's the NFL and crazy things happen. You never want to forgt what happened, but we have to put it behind us and come out smoking next week."
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