Posted: Sunday December 26, 1999 11:29 PM
SEATTLE (Ticker) -- The final regular season game at the Kingdome was a memorable one for Jon Kitna and the Seattle Seahawks.
After facing criticism for a four-game losing streak that dropped Seattle out of first place in the AFC West, Kitna passed for two touchdowns and the Seahawks intercepted Elvis Grbac three times en route to a 23-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The win put Seattle (9-6) back into a first-place tie with the Chiefs (9-6) in the AFC West and in control of its own destiny. On the basis of a season sweep of Kansas City, the Seahawks hold the tiebreaker and can clinch their first division title since 1988 with a win over the New York Jets next week or a Chiefs' loss to Oakland.
"Needless to say, we had to have this one," said Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren. "We got off to a good start and our defense made a lot of big plays."
The division runner-up will contend for one of two wild card spots with Miami and Buffalo.
The Seahawks appeared to have the division wrapped up when they won at Kansas City, 31-19, to open a three-game lead on November 21. However, the Seahawks lost four straight while the Chiefs won four in a row to take sole possession of the top spot.
Kitna, whose overtime fumble was returned for a touchdown in last week's loss at Denver, and kicker Todd Peterson were among the Seahawks who took heat from the media for the collapse. Peterson missed three fourth-quarter field goals in a 19-16 loss to San Diego on December 12.
Today, Kitna hit Sean Dawkins with a 20-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and connected with Derrick Mayes on a nine-yard scoring toss in the second to stake the Seahawks to a 17-0 lead. He completed 18-of-30 passes for 216 yards with no interceptions.
"I was definitely wary about not giving away field position with turnovers," Kitna said. "My whole focus, especially in the second half, was not to turn the ball over."
Peterson kicked a 32-yard field goal in the opening quarter and added second-half kicks of 23 and 48 yards.
Grbac, who was 22-of-42 for 254 yards, passed for two touchdowns, including a 76-yard bomb to Joe Horn in the third quarter. But he was stung by a defense that leads the AFC with 26 interceptions.
"My interceptions probably cost us the game," said Grbac. "They have quick players in the secondary."
After the game, the Seahawks hosted a celebration commemorating the Kingdome years (1976-99). Steve Largent, Jim Zorn, Dave Krieg, Dave Brown, Joe Nash, Jacob Green and Brian Blades were on hand along with coaches Jack Patera, Mike McCormack and Chuck Knox.
The Kingdome will be torn down after the season to make way for a new outdoor stadium. However, the Seahawks will host a wild-card game if they make the playoffs.
Kitna set the tone with a 16-yard pass to tight end Christian Fauria on the game's first play from scrimmage. Fauria finished with a career-high six catches for 84 yards.
Ricky Watters then took over, rushing for 40 yards on six carries to set up a 31-yard field goal by Peterson 5:42 into the game. He finished the game with just 63 yards on 18 carries.
After Seattle's defense pinned Kansas City at its own 10 following an incompletion and two running plays which netted no yards, Joey Galloway returned the ensuing punt 21 yards to the Kansas City 35.
Kitna hit Fauria with a 15-yard pass and connected with Dawkins on a 20-yard touchdown on the next play to give Seattle a 10-0 lead with 2:39 left in the quarter.
On Kansas City's next possession, safety Darryl Williams intercepted a pass intended for Horn and returned it four yards to the Kansas City 48.
Kitna again hooked up with Fauria on a 19-yard pass before he hit Mayes in the end zone on a nine-yard touchdown to increase the Seahawks' advantage to 17-0 with 6:23 left in the half.
The Chiefs drove 71 yards in 11 plays for their first touchdown, a four-yard pass from Grbac to tight end Lonnie Johnson.
Seattle's defense made the first big play of the second half when Shawn Springs intercepted a long pass down the right sideline and returned it 27 yards to the Kansas City 6. After an interception by Kansas City's James Hasty was negated by a penalty, the Chiefs defense held and the Seahawks settled for a 22-yard field goal by Peterson with 9:35 left in the third quarter.
The Chiefs pulled within 20-14 on a 76-yard scoring pass from Grbac to Horn, who beat Willie Williams down the left sideline with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Kitna completed 4-of-5 passes for 43 yards, including a 19-yarder to Dawkins, to set up a 48-yard field goal by Peterson with 4:39 left in the quarter.
Chris Canty registered Seattle's third interception of the game, making a diving catch in front of Derrick Alexander and returning it 19 yards to the Kansas City 37 early in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs reached the Seattle 45 later in the fourth, but Grbac was sacked for a nine-yard loss by defensive end Michael Sinclair and threw an incompletion on a 4th-and-8 play at the 43.
Kansas City Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez led the Chiefs with nine receptions for 86 yards.
"They responded to the challenge today," Gonzalez said. "We have to win our game next week and hope 10 wins is good enough to make the playoffs, but we know it may not be."
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