The Big Play
Three minutes earlier, the Niners had crept within eight points on Todd Peterson's 30-yard field goal, and San Francisco's defense proceeded to force a punt after just four plays by the Seattle offense. With the Niners starting at their own 15, quarterback Tim Rattay threw incomplete looking for fullback Fred Beasley on first down. On second down, Rattay got a defensive look he wasn't quite expecting as he dropped back to pass. The Seahawks were playing a zone and Rattay first looked down the middle where tight ends Eric Johnson and Aaron Walker both were running seam patterns. "It was a situation where we had Eric and Aaron down the seam," Rattay said. "I was looking at Eric, and 51 (Seattle linebacker Anthony Simmons) was kind of on him and I thought he was staying on him." So, Rattay turned quickly to his left and, in one motion, fired a pass toward receiver Cedrick Wilson, who had run a sideline out pattern. The ball never got to Wilson. Instead, Simmons drifted into the flat and found himself directly in the passing lane as Rattay's throw came spiraling into his hands. "We were in a zone on that particular play and I had (Johnson)," Simmons said. "He's their go-to guy, I cut under him and I guessed right because the ball came right at me. The rest was easy." Was it ever. "My first thought was, ‘Touchdown,' " Simmons said. "I'm pretty relaxed when the ball was coming to me. I know what I'm supposed to do." Simmons intercepted the pass at the 23-yard line and had nothing in front of him besides the San Francisco end zone. He charged past the goal line untouched to turn a one-score game into an insurmountable 42-27 Seattle lead. "I just didn't see him slide off into the flat, and you've got to see it," Rattay said. "I have to see what he does and not make that pass in that situation." Too late. The San Francisco offense never threatened again, managing just one first down on the next series before being forced to punt, then watching from the sidelines as the Seattle offense burned the final five minutes off the clock.
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