Eagles take long, and winding, road past Seahawks

December 14, 1992|By Jack McCaffery | Jack McCaffery,Contributing Writer

SEATTLE -- When all of the Philadelphia Eagles' controversies cease to swirl, whenever their destiny is reached, whenever they choose to remember 1992, they can recall their 20-17, overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks yesterday.

In that, they will find just about everything: deep dissent, sloppy football and, finally, a victory.

When Roger Ruzek kicked a 44-yard field goal with no time left in overtime, the Eagles had survived a team-record 191 penalty yards and a seven-point, fourth-quarter deficit. They improved to 9-5, even with the Washington Redskins, whom they face Sunday at Veterans Stadium.

"We're OK," said Herschel Walker, who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown. "We got on the plane to come here and win a game, and we did that. You always want to win convincingly. But I do have to take my hat off to the Seahawks."

The Eagles' penalty yards were the second-most in NFL history. The record is 209 by the Cleveland Browns in 1951 against the Chicago Bears.

Seattle (2-12) sacked Randall Cunningham 10 times and played the Eagles even until Ruzek lined up his winner with 0:03 showing in OT. Three seconds later, the Eagles were as much relieved as jubilant.

"We're happy to win under those circumstances," coach Rich Kotite said. "How many times can you have 17 penalties, the second-most penalty yards in the history of the NFL, and still be able to win a football game? But we did.

"Our defense was magnificent. And we won. That's all that matters."

Well, maybe.

The game was played under a dome, but also under another of the clouds that have covered the Eagles all season. This time, linebacker Seth Joyner, who has not spoken to the Philadelphia media in more than three weeks, blasted the Eagles and Kotite in yesterday's New York Times. In comparing Kotite with ex-coach Buddy Ryan, Joyner likened his coach to a puppet.

"He [Ryan] had built this team from the dumps and wanted certain things to push it over the top," Joyner said. "Buddy cared about winning, and [team owner Norman] Braman cared about making money. Buddy did not get the chance to complete the job.

"Braman wanted a puppet, and that's what he got. . . . Free agency is coming, and this team could be ripped apart."

Afterward, Joyner said some of his comments were misconstrued, and that "half the things written in the media you can believe, the other half you cannot." Joyner also said that there "is nothing to retract."

Said Kotite: "I didn't know that. I don't want to talk about it right now. I think it's ridiculous, but that's fine if you want to talk about it. Let's talk about the football game."

Trapped in a 17-10 deficit and at their own 7-yard line, the Eagles unleashed a 93-yard scoring drive to forge a 17-17 tie with 4:52 left.

Walker ended the drive with an 8-yard burst around the right side. But it was a short pass to Keith Byars that resulted in a 46-yard gain that put the Eagles in business.

The Seahawks gained the late lead when Dwayne Harper returned Cunningham's fumble 52 yards for a touchdown with 13:50 to play, making it 17-10. It took 10 Philadelphia penalties, but the Seahawks had tied it 10-10 at halftime.

Seattle trailed 10-3, but the Eagles committed 80 yards' worth of penalties on an 89-yard drive culminated by an 11-yard, play-action touchdown pass from Stan Gelbaugh to John L. Williams.

The Eagles had taken a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter. That drive appeared to end at field-goal range when Cunningham was chased out of bounds on third down. But Seahawk Robert Robinson illegally hit the Philadelphia quarterback in the face mask on the way out of bounds, temporarily injuring Cunningham's left eye and giving the Eagles a first down.

Jim McMahon appeared for one play, a handoff. But Cunningham returned on the next play and scored a trademark touchdown. Racing around right end, Cunningham high-jumped over Eugene Robinson for the final 3 yards of a 4-yard TD run, flopping into the end zone from about six feet above ground.

Each team had a chance to win in overtime. The Seahawks penetrated as far as the Philadelphia 42, but Clyde Simmons sacked Gelbaugh to push them back to the 47.

Seattle was forced to punt, and the Eagles went 53 yards in eight plays for the winning score.

"We played a good team, and some good things happened," said Gelbaugh, a former Maryland quarterback, who in 75 minutes guided the Seahawks to 87 yards of offense. "They have All-Pros, and they are solid at every position."

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