Ten Takeaways of Seattle's 17-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
10. As noted on Fox's telecast, the Seahawks and 49ers each registered 178 yards of total offense in the first half. And though the Seahawks ultimately won, this was a close game in which the 49ers actually held the advantage over the Seahawks in Time of Possession (31:02 to 28:58), Turnovers (1-0) and first downs via the passing game (7 to 5).
9. Each team was robbed of big plays by questionable penalty flags. The worst of the flags actually wound up benefiting the Seaahwks, a rarity given that Seattle is the league's most penalized team. The Seahawks were awarded a first and goal early in the fourth quarter after 49ers linebacker Nick Moody hit Russell Wilson shortly after he released a pass that fell incomplete. Rather than go for a Steven Hauschka field goal, the Seahawks got seven points when Wilson found rookie Paul Richardson on a quick slant.
8. The pull-away touchdown was obviously Richardson's biggest play of the game but give he and the rest of Seattle's "pedestrian" receivers credit, they performed well today. After catching most of his passes on the outside earlier in the year, Richardson is now frequently running across the middle, where defenders will have a tougher time handling his speed and agility. Jermaine Kearse's 47-yard haul down the right sideline was a thing of beauty and he very nearly came down with an even better twirling grab on the left side a bit later. It is easy to forget the awareness and terrific grab Doug Baldin made moments before Wilson's surprising interception to end the first half but the 35-yard gain put Seattle in position to kick a field goal.
7. Wilson's interception was the culmination of over-aggressive play-calling and a rare silly mistake from their Pro Bowl quarterback. As noted by Troy Aikman on FOX's telecast, the Seahawks appeared to call four verticals on a play in which they only had eight seconds. Anything other than touchdown and the clock may run out. As it turned out, San Francisco got penetration and forced Wilson into an early throw that Eric Reid easily picked off and very nearly returned for a score of his own.
6. While on the subject of this interception, give Wilson credit for hustling back to stop Reid from scoring. Reid picked up a contingent of blockers and looked to be in good position to score but Wilson weaved his way through them to slow San Francisco's safety just enough. Robert Turbin deserves credit for his pursuit, as well, as he's the one who ultimately tackled Reid 24 yards short of the end zone.
5. Of course, the "biggest" reason Wilson elected to throw the ball in the first place was due to a fierce San Francisco pass rush that sacked five times and officially hit him twice as often. Rookie right tackle Justin Britt was schooled early by outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks and surrendered a second quarter sack to Dan Skuta, as well. The left side wasn't much cleaner as Russell Okung and James Carpenter were frequently beaten by Aldon Smith and Co.
4. Fortunately for the Seahawks, their pass rush was even more lethal on Sunday. The Seahawks sacked Colin Kaepernick six times. As expected, reserves Joe Looney and Jonathan Martin started at center and right tackle for the 49ers and the Seahawks took advantage early. Michael Bennett and Kevin Williams were particularly disruptive, notching tackles for loss but Cliff Avril and Jordan Hill also made big plays. Hill's sack to force a punt prior to the two minute warning was especially critical as the 49ers were building momentum. The Seahawks were more aggressive than normal with their blitzes, sending linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner on multiple occasions.
3. Dating back to his time at Nevada, I've been pretty critical of Kaepernick's accuracy from the pocket. He missed a couple of more throws today but also delivered a few beautiful passes, including a 33-yard wheel route to tight end Garrett Celek that sparked San Francisco's lone touchdown drive. Kaepernick has one of the league's best arms but he rarely throws anything but fastballs. On this particular toss, Kaepernick showed great touch. As if to prove that he still has his trademark zip, he then rifled a post to Anquan Boldin for 15 yards.
2. As is customary when these two bitter rivals square off, this game is incredibly physical. Starting left tackle Russell Okung did not play in the second half after appearing to spit up blood at the end of the second quarter. Okung was replaced by Alvin Bailey, who, not surprisingly was more impressive blocking in the running game than in pass protection. The 49ers were hit especially hard with injuries with running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, inside linebacker Chris Borland and tight end Garrett Celek among the San Francisco players who went down in this contest. Following the game Carroll said that Okung had a chest wall bruise and that he was checked at a local hospital but has already been released.
1. With the win, the Seahawks are now 10-4 are control their own destiny in the NFC West. A victory next week in Arizona and the Seahawks would take over the division lead on the strength of their head to head advantage over the Cardinals, who boast the No. 1 seed in the NFC. With two weeks to go and the rest of the NFC appearing to fade a bit down the stretch, it is looking more and more likely that the path to the Super Bowl might pass through Seattle.
Seahawks outlast 49ers, win 17-7
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