SEATTLE -- Dropped passes are a nuisance, not a disaster. Fans offer their encouragement, not contempt. And the Seattle Seahawks find ways to win despite their mistakes.
Welcome to Darrell Jackson's world.
Jackson scored a fourth-quarter touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck and set up another late score with a 43-yard catch-and-run in Seattle's 23-16 victory over the slumping Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
"I did well for myself in the second half," Jackson said.
The fourth-year receiver had a rough start, dropping six straight passes through three quarters. One would have been a certain touchdown, because Jackson found an open seam to the end zone in the first period.
"At halftime, he was very emotional in the locker room," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He cares about the team, and he felt he let people down in the first half."
Jackson delivered when the Seahawks (6-2) needed it, though, making two big plays in the final 12 minutes. His TD catch put Seattle ahead 16-6, and his long gain moved the ball to the 1 to set up Shaun Alexander's TD run and a 23-13 lead.
"You've got four quarters to make up for those mistakes," Jackson said shortly after tucking his TD ball into a game bag.
The Steelers (2-6) lost their fifth straight, their longest losing streak since dropping six in a row in 1999.
"These guys have been working their tails off," coach Bill Cowher said. "The veterans have been excellent. The effort has been good. Right now, we're just not putting together a complete game."
This time, they were in it to the end.
Pittsburgh's blitzing defense pressured Hasselbeck all day, producing five sacks. And the offense left Seattle guessing in the fourth quarter, when a slow-paced field goal contest turned into a wide-open shootout.
"We got after the quarterback," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said. "He gave us opportunities to blitz. We took advantage. But when it counted in the fourth quarter, we didn't get off the field."
Seattle's offense came to life at the same time, even if some might have questioned why Hasselbeck kept throwing to the bubbly Jackson, who insisted that not even his dropped TD was a negative.
"The ball was a little swervy," Jackson recalled. "I think the wind pushed it up on me a little bit. It hit my face mask. I didn't get my hands up in time."
His problems became so apparent to fans, though, that they cheered in jest late in the third quarter when Jackson held on for a 4-yard reception. He raised his arm and bobbed his head in acknowledgment.
"I appreciate that love I got when they started to yell," Jackson said. "So I gave a little love back."
It was the best thing that could have happened for Jackson. Seattle center Robbie Tobeck saw Jackson's face light up with confidence, and he became a different receiver the rest of the way.
"It looked like Rod Tidwell in Jerry McGuire," Hasselbeck said. "I sort of laughed, but I can't imagine what Coach Holmgren was doing at that point. You just have to know Darrell. That's his personality."
Trailing 23-13, the Steelers reached the 3 but settled for Jeff Reed's 21-yard field goal. A potential TD pass fell incomplete when Ward and Antwaan Randle El bumped into each other.
"It's frustrating," said Maddox, who completed 21 of 35 passes for 226 yards and one TD. "When you continue to work as hard as we're working, and you keep falling just a little short, it's a little hard to swallow."
Hasselbeck was 18-of-31 for 215 yards and a score.
The Steelers' coaching staff listened after receiver Plaxico Burress complained about predictable play-calling, and Porter said the Steelers should have blitzed more in last week's loss to the Rams.
"We did well enough to get into second- or third-and-short, but then we'd get a penalty," Burress said. "We started in a good situation and then put ourselves into a bad situation."
- Seattle's D.D. Lewis blocked a punt on Pittsburgh's opening series of the second half. It was the first blocked punt by the Seahawks since Oct. 14, 2001.
- FS Damien Robinson started for Seattle in place of rookie Ken Hamlin for the first time this season.
- Seahawks DT Norman Hand left in the first quarter to have an arm injury X-rayed.
The Associated Press News Service
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