SEATTLE (AP)—The more the Seahawks tried to hand the game to the Giants, the more Jay Feely kept kicking it back.
And short. And wide.
NFC-leading Seattle survived a wild finish and an even wilder overtime to steal a 24-21 victory Sunday over New York, which had three chances to win with Feely—23-of-25 on field goals up to that point—on the field.
The result of each belied an impressive Giants effort: Feely was barely wide left on a 40-yarder on the final play of regulation, short on a 54-yard try in overtime, and wide right and way short on a second chance in the extra period from 45 yards.
By the third miss, the Seahawks were finally ready to capitalize.
Seattle’s seventh straight victory leaves it one win or a St. Louis loss away from clinching the NFC West; the Seahawks are now 9-2 for the first time since 1984—which is also the last time they won a playoff game. They have only one game remaining against a team with a winning record, Dec. 24 against Peyton Manning’s undefeated Indianapolis Colts.
“What was it, three (misses)?” Hasselbeck said after he completed 21 of 37 passes for 249 yards and two scores and an interception.
“Shoot, I kind of think we are still in shock, really.”
Not as much as New York.
The Giants (7-4) missed a chance—make that three prime chances—to become 8-3 for the first time since their 2000 Super Bowl season. Instead, they bitterly fell back into a tie atop the NFC East with Dallas, whom they host this Sunday.
First, they’ll have to get over this one.
“There is no way. I will give you my house if he misses this one,” Giants runner Tiki Barber said, when asked his thoughts before Feely’s third miss.
That miss wasted a 49-yard run by Barber to the Seattle 31 that seemed to seal what had already been a topsy-turvy game. Barber finished with 151 yards on 26 carries.
Immediately after the thrilling, seesaw finish, Giants coach Tom Coughlin mentioned Feely to his players in the locker room. Before Coughlin could say much, Feely stood up and spoke.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry I let you down,”’ Feely said.
“People are going to say it’s a team game and they’re going to say the right things. But the fact of the matter is that you’ve got to come through when you have one opportunity—much less two good opportunities.”
Even the two kicks he made earlier, from 39 and 43 yards in the second and third quarters, plopped softly just yards beyond the cross bar.
At least one of his teammates forgives him.
“Jay’s my boy … He’s saved our butt three or four times,” linebacker Antonio Pierce said.
“He’s human. He’s going to make mistakes … he came in here, said what he had to say.”
Feely’s misses ruined a career day from Giants quarterback Eli Manning. In defeat, he grew beyond his 24 years and toward franchise-quarterback status of older brother Peyton. The younger Manning established career highs of 29 completions and 53 attempts. He had 344 yards passing—eight behind his career-high set Sept. 25 against San Diego—with two touchdowns.
The second was to Amani Toomer, who deftly dragged his right foot into his left inside the back line of the end zone for an 18-yard score with 1:59 left. Manning followed that with a 2-point conversion to Jeremy Shockey to tie it at 21.
Shockey caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a first-half touchdown.
In that opening half, the Giants’ slanting and scheming defense throttled the Seahawks’ top-ranked offense. New York followed Dallas’ successful script of last month by shoving as many as nine defenders close to the line of scrimmage against NFL rushing leader Shaun Alexander, daring Seattle to win through the air.
But New York led only 10-7 at that point, largely because of 11 penalties. The Giants ended with 16 flags for 114 yards, their most in 56 years. That included an amazing 11 flags for false starts—five against left tackle Luke Petitgout and three against left guard David Diehl.
Diehl said the raucous crowd at sold-out Qwest Field made him do it.
“This is the loudest it’s been (on the road),” Diehl said.
Alexander, who had seven carries for 16 yards at halftime, finally broke through midway through the third quarter. He gained 40 yards on one drive. Joe Jurevicius ended that march with a 16-yard touchdown catch. Seattle had a 14-13 lead with 4:36 left in the third quarter.
Jurevicius finished with eight catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. ^Notes: Barber eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in a season for the fifth time in his career. He is tied with Rodney Hampton for the most in Giants history … Jurevicius’ 137 yards receiving ties his career high, set Oct. 9 at St. Louis … Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said starting left cornerback Kelly Herndon will miss at least two weeks with a left knee injury, which occurred in the second quarter.