December 6, 2009

2004: Cowboys Overcome Seattle and Hasselbeck’s 414 Passing Yards

The Monday night matchup on December 6, 2004 at Seattle’s Qwest Field featured the hometown Seahawks (6-5) hosting the Dallas Cowboys (4-7). The Cowboys had gotten off to a dreadful 1-6 start before defeating the Bears the week before, while Seattle had fallen to Buffalo the previous week after winning three of the previous four games and sat atop the weak NFC West.

42-year-old WR Jerry Rice, a midseason pickup from Oakland, scored the first touchdown for Seattle on a 27-yard pass from QB Matt Hasselbeck in the first quarter. After a Billy Cundiff field goal for the Cowboys, Hasselbeck struck again for the Seahawks with a two-yard scoring pass to WR Darrell Jackson. However, the second quarter belonged to the Cowboys who added 16 points on a pass from QB Vinny Testaverde to WR Terrance Copper and an 8-yard run by RB Julius Jones. An attempted two-point conversion after the first TD failed, so with another Cundiff field goal, Dallas led at halftime, 19-14.

Jones scored his second touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run in the third quarter and, after Cundiff connected on a field goal for the third time, it appeared the Cowboys had the game in hand with a 29-14 lead. They had scored on five consecutive possessions, aided by two Seattle fumbles.

But it was the turn of the Seahawks to retake the momentum, as they proceeded to score on their next four possessions, first on three drives of over 70 yards apiece and then a 41-yard drive set up by FS Ken Hamlin’s interception at midfield. RB Shaun Alexander scored twice during this rally, on runs of one and 32 yards, and in between, Hasselbeck fired a 19-yard TD pass to WR Jerheme Urban that was capped by a successful Hasselbeck-to-Jackson play for a two-point conversion.

With 2:46 to play in the game, it was the Seahawks with a commanding 39-29 margin. On the next Dallas possession, Testaverde completed four consecutive passes that included a 34-yard touchdown pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson deep in the end zone to cut Seattle’s lead to 39-36. With 1:45 now remaining, the Cowboys successfully recovered an onside kick. Jones ran 16 yards for a key first down on third and nine with under a minute remaining, and then scored the winning touchdown on a 17-yard run two plays later (pictured).

Seattle had a last chance with 32 seconds to play, and Hasselbeck passed to Rice for 28 yards. But on the final play, Hasselbeck’s heave into the end zone was knocked away and the Cowboys had a 43-39 win.

Hasselbeck had an outstanding performance in defeat, completing 28 of 40 passes for 414 yards and three TDs, with no interceptions. Two Seattle receivers totaled over a hundred yards – Rice, with 145 yards on 8 catches, and Jackson, with 113 yards on a team-leading 9 receptions. RB Alexander, who became the first player in NFL history to reach 15 touchdowns in four consecutive seasons with his two scores, gained 83 yards on 21 carries.

Rookie Julius Jones was the running star for Dallas, gaining 198 yards on 30 carries, including the three TDs. Testaverde passed for 225 yards as he completed 18 of 34 passes, with two TDs and two interceptions. Keyshawn Johnson led the Cowboys receivers with 6 catches for 116 yards and the one score.

Overall, both teams combined for 912 yards of offense – 507 by Seattle and 405 for Dallas. The Cowboys became the first team ever on Monday Night Football to overcome a 10-point deficit in the last two minutes of a game.

The setback put the Seahawks at .500, but they won three of the last four games to win the NFC West with a 9-7 record. They lost to their chief competitor in the division, the St. Louis Rams, in the Wild Card round. Dallas lost three of four to end up at 6-10 along with the Giants and Redskins in the NFC East.

Matt Hasselbeck saw his numbers droop slightly from 2003, a season that had seen him go to the Pro Bowl for the first time, but he still passed for over 3000 yards (3382) for the third of an eventual four consecutive seasons. Jerry Rice, in the final season of his brilliant career, hauled in 25 passes for 362 yards and three TDs with Seattle (he caught another five passes for 67 yards and no scores for Oakland prior to being traded). Darrell Jackson had his most productive season, achieving career highs with 87 receptions for 1199 yards. Shaun Alexander led the NFC in rushing with 1696 yards (and missed leading the NFL by a yard) and scored 20 touchdowns.

Julius Jones was limited to eight games due to injury, but gained 819 yards rushing on 197 carries. Vinny Testaverde, at age 41, passed for 3532 yards in ’04, but also led the NFL by throwing 20 interceptions. Keyshawn Johnson, in his first season in Dallas, caught 70 passes for 981 yards and six touchdowns.