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Sunday, September 22, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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One That Didn't Get Away -- Skansi Recalls '90 Catch Vs. K.C.

KANSAS CITY - The scene: Fifty years from now, Paul Skansi is in a Gig Harbor rest home and old Seahawk fans visit him.

"Tell us about your game-winning catch at Kansas City in 1990," they ask.

Skansi leans forward in his rocking chair and tells for the 5,000th time what is still a storybook moment in Seahawk history.

"Well, there were only four seconds left. . . ."

It has been called "The Pass," "The Catch," and "The Play at Kansas City."

The completion from Dave Kreig, who looped away from what would have been Derrick Thomas' eighth sack of the day and fired, went for 25 yards on the final play of regulation time.

Skansi made the most memorable catch of his life and the Seahawks won 17-16.

After a Seahawk practice for today's game in Kansas City, Skansi described the play in matter-of-fact fashion.

"We just ran a seam pattern," he said. "They were in a zone. I got back to the back of the end zone and Dave fortunately got out of the grasp of Thomas and threw it up there and I made a play on it."

No doubt about that. Skansi was immediately crunched by Chiefs Deron Cherry and Kevin Ross but hung on to the ball, then spiked it in joy.

The catch, which was preceded by completions of 16 yards to John L. Williams and 25 yards to Tommy Kane, ended a perfectly executed, four-play, 66-yard drive that enabled the Hawks to win in Kansas City for the first time since 1980.

The victory launched a 6-2 run to close the season and provided confidence that has spilled over to this year.

Last week, with the Hawks on the Denver 14-yard line and less than two minutes to play, Skansi admitted "The Pass" was on his mind.

Thomas, who set an NFL record with seven sacks of Krieg in the game, has said he still is haunted by the play.

"If I make that play, we'd have been home for the playoffs," he told reporters.

Instead, Kansas City finished 11-5 and settled for a wild-card berth. The Chiefs had to open the playoffs in Miami and got beat by the same score of 17-16.

Kansas City Coach Marty Schottenheimer said his team made two critical mistakes on the touchdown: (1) A stunting defender got pinned inside and instead of working back and applying pressure on Krieg from the left, he stayed on the right. That was the same side Thomas came around, but the lack of pressure on the left enabled Krieg to elude Thomas before he circled back and fired to Skansi; (2) A pass defender didn't stay back on the goal line but went forward because the Hawks sent a decoy across underneath. The pass flew over the defender's head to Skansi.

For Skansi, a nine-year pro from Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor and the University of Washington, the catch is his most famous play. His second-favorite play is his 89-yard kickoff return in Kingbowl II that beat Pullman 35-34 for the Class AA high-school title in 1978.

Skansi will be playing in front of a much larger crowd today than he did in the Kingbowl. All 78,067 seats in Arrowhead Stadium are sold for the 1 p.m. (PDT) kickoff.

Both teams enter today's game with offensive problems and 1-2 records. The Seahawks rank last in the NFL with 193 rushing yards and the Chiefs are last in scoring with 31 points.

The Seahawks have more injuries than the Chiefs and could start the game with three offensive linemen who weren't in the lineup for the opener in New Orleans. They will be facing one of the best defensive lines in football.

Bill Hitchcock continues to fill in for Ronnie Lee at right tackle, Warren Wheat has replaced Edwin Bailey, who is out for the season at left guard after undergoing knee surgery, and Darrick Brilz may take the place of Bryan Millard at right guard.

The Hawks don't expect to know until just before the game whether Millard, who suffered a bruise above his left ankle Thursday, will be able to start his 43rd consecutive game.

The Seahawks made an injury switch yesterday when they put punter Rick Donnelly on injured reserve (back) and signed Alex Waits, a rookie from Texas who was waived in the cutdown to 60 last month.

A major Hawk priority today is controlling linebacker Thomas, whose two cars have license plates that read ISACQBS and ISAKQBS.

"In other games, we did some special things with him," said Seahawk offensive coordinator John Becker. "In that game, we didn't and it really, really hurt us. You don't make that mistake again. I won't make it and that was mostly my fault."

Tackle Andy Heck was beaten for two of Thomas' sacks.

"He's a guy who can really jump off the ball and make plays," Heck said of Thomas. "He's got a knack for turning the corner when he has an edge on a guy and getting to the ball carrier. . . . You can never count him out. He can always jump up and run somebody down."

So far in 1991, Thomas has drawn extra blocking attention and has only half a sack. -------------------------------

THE ESSENTIALS

GAME: Seattle at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (Seattle time).

WHERE: Arrowhead Stadium.

COACHES: Marty Schottenheimer, in his third year as K.C. coach after coaching at Cleveland for 4 1/2 years, never has had a losing season. His career regular-season record is 64-41-1. At Kansas City, he is 20-14-1.

Seattle's Chuck Knox needs one more regular-season victory to tie the late Paul Brown for sixth-most wins in NFL history. Knox is 165-107-1. Knox is 2-8 at Arrowhead Stadium and went 17 years without a victory there before last year's triumph.

SERIES: The Chiefs lead 13-12. Eleven of the 25 games have been decided by less than a touchdown. Chiefs hold a 9-4 advantage at home.

LAST YEAR: The Seahawks ended an eight-year losing streak at Arrowhead Stadium by winning 17-16 on a last-second, 25-yard pass from Dave Krieg to Paul Skansi. It was Hawks' first victory in Kansas City since 1980. Earlier in the season, Seattle had beaten the Chiefs 19-7 in the Kingdome.

THE RECORDS: Both teams are 1-2. Seattle lost on the road to New Orleans 27-24 and Denver 16-10 and beat the New York Jets at home 20-13. Kansas City won its home opener by beating Atlanta 14-3, then lost at home to New Orleans 17-10 and at Houston 17-7 last Monday night.

THE BROADCASTS

TELEVISION: Channel 5 (Jim Donovan, Beasley Reece).

RADIO: KIRO (710 AM) (Pete Gross and Steve Raible).

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

WHEN CHIEFS HAVE BALL: Powerful Christian Okoye is running well and the Chiefs' rushing attack has outperformed the passing attack so far this season. The Chiefs will mix in play-action passes to take advantage of Steve DeBerg's exceptional ball-handling skills. DeBerg is usually good at finding open receivers, and 11 Chiefs have caught passes this year.

WHEN SEAHAWKS HAVE BALL: The Seahawks will try, for the fourth week, to get their running game going. They rank last in the NFL, averaging only 64.3 yards. The Seahawks gave backup running backs Derek Loville and Chris Warren a lot of repetitions with the first-team last week and if they get in and produce, they might stay in the game. . . . When the Hawks pass, the priority receivers will be Tommy Kane and Brian Blades, each coming off games in which they caught more than 100 yards in passes. . . . Hawks will be paying special attention to linebacker Derrick Thomas, who burned them for an NFL record seven sacks last year.

NOTABLE

Game is sellout of more than 78,000 . . . Chiefs rank last in NFL in scoring with only 31 points . . . Many football experts say Kansas City has the best personnel in the AFC West. . . . Chiefs' quarterback DeBerg is 1-6 as a starter against Seattle. . . . Linebacker Percy Snow, last year's No. 1 draft choice, is out because he broke an ankle in a moped accident.

INJURIES

SEATTLE: Tackle Ronnie Lee (thigh) and punter Rick Donnelly (back), both out; linebacker Rod Stephens (shoulder) and running back Chris Warren (rib), both probable; Bryan Millard (leg), questionable. KANSAS CITY: Wide receiver Fred Jones (knee), cornerback Albert Lewis (knee), wide receiver Jayice Pearson (toe), wide receiver Stephone Paige (knee), all questionable. Running back Barry Word (hip) and tackle Derrick Graham (ankle), both probable.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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