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Seattle Eliminates Denver, Will Play Raiders for Title

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Only the Raiders can stop them now.

They will bop on down to the Coliseum next Sunday, needing one more victory for the first division championship of their 13-year National Football League history.

They are the Seattle Seahawks, who did a 42-14 number on Denver Sunday night at the Kingdome, snuffing the Broncos’ chances of returning to (and losing) the Super Bowl for a third straight year.

They rode the Broncos hard and put ‘em away wet. Curt Warner ran for 4 touchdowns. Dave Krieg completed 19 of 22 passes. Warner and John L. Williams each rushed for more than 100 yards, just as they did here 2 weeks ago against the Raiders.

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So, in the ever-popular American Football Conference’s Western Division, the division of subtraction, Seattle alone can boast that it has won more games than it has lost. Don’t worry, though; these guys still have time to louse it up. A loss at Los Angeles knocks Chuck Knox and the Seahawks out for the count.

For Raider bulletin-board purposes, we provide a couple of third-party opinions:

From Denver quarterback John Elway: “If the Seahawks play the way they did today, then no doubt about it, they’ll beat the Raiders.”

From Denver linebacker Karl Mecklenburg: “I hope the Seahawks win. They should. They have the best talent. I think they would represent the division best in the playoffs. They’re the most solid team in the division.”

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Which isn’t really saying much.

It’s sort of like saying Eddie (the Eagle) Edwards is the best ski jumper in England. There isn’t much to choose from.

Seattle sits alone in first place with a record of 8-7, but will yield the AFC West title to the Raiders should both teams end up 8-8. Denver also can finish 8-8 by winning at home next Saturday against New England. Since the Broncos, though, have been beaten twice by the Seahawks and twice by the Raiders, they no longer can win the division, or even a wild-card bid.

Denver fell for the third time in 4 weeks Sunday, with a sorry excuse for a defense that gave up touchdowns on Seattle’s first six possessions.

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Krieg completed his first 12 passes. By halftime he was 14 of 15, and was rubbing it in so badly that, on fourth-and-inches with 33 seconds remaining in the half, Krieg faked a dive play to Warner and lobbed a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Spagnola.

The score was 28-7 at the half, and Seattle already had 19 first downs. The Seahawks hogged the football drive after drive, starting with a 12-play, 97-yard march on their first possession. Seattle practically moved the ball at will.

Denver Coach Dan Reeves hardly knew what to make of it, saying: “Seattle did absolutely everything it wanted to. I can’t believe we’re that bad and they’re that good.”

How badly were the Broncs busted?

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Allow their coach to sum up the whole experience for you, in 25 words or less.

“I’ve never played against a team before that had 28 first downs before they even punted ,” Reeves said.

Seattle had no fumbles. No interceptions. No punts until their last two possessions. Krieg was wasn’t sacked. The Seahawks ran for 230 yards and threw for 220. Seven different receivers caught at least two passes apiece.

All in all it was a fine time for the Seahawks and their fans, who heckled Elway with taunts of “Mr. Ed,” the name pinned onto him in Seattle linebacker Brian Bosworth’s book.

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Although Bosworth remained on injured reserve and did not play--nor will he play against the Raiders--Seattle’s defense gave Elway a hard time, sacking him on four occasions. Second-stringer Gary Kubiak eventually engineered the game’s final touchdown with a 95-yard drive after Elway and the first string had fallen hopelessly behind, 42-7.

Krieg opened the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Williams, who had 7 catches to go with his 109 rushing yards. The drive covered 97 yards and ate up 6 minutes 47 seconds, setting the tone for the rest of the game.

On the first play of the second quarter, Williams scored again, only to be ruled down a half-yard short of the goal line by an instant replay. Warner carried it over behind a crushing block by Bryan Millard, making it 14-0.

Elway limbered up. He passed 35 yards to Mark Jackson and 19 to Ricky Nattiel, both of whom were wearing “Mr. Elway” on their shoes in respectful response to Bosworth’s “Mr. Ed” crack. Jackson grabbed a 15-yarder for the touchdown, halving Seattle’s advantage.

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A scuffle between Denver defensive back Jeremiah Castille and Seattle receiver Brian Blades influenced the outcome of the next Seahawk drive. First, they got into a wrestling match after Blades cut Castille off at th knees. On the next play, Mike Harden’s interception in the end zone was wiped out because Castille, still playing one-on-one, grabbed Blades as he was going by and held him long enough for a costly penalty.

Krieg promptly passed to Blades to the one, for his 11th consecutive completion, and Warner took care of the final yard.

Just before halftime, while threatening again, Krieg’s first incompletion fell off Warner’s fingertips inside the 10. But he passed to Williams to the 7, and, with inches to go on fourth down, Krieg fooled the Broncos completely by flipping a pass to Spagnola, all alone in the back of the end zone, with 33 seconds left in the half.

The rest was easy. Warner scored twice in the second half, on runs of 13 and 12 yards. Denver could do nothing until a Kubiak-led drive got them a meaningless touchdown on Steve Sewell’s 3-yard run with 28 seconds to play.

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