Can there be a more satisfying victory in sports, than to vanquish your most hated rival at the nadir of their very existence?
Kicking them when they’re down? Please. We knocked ’em out and took a dump on ’em while they were down!
It feels so amazing to know that the Seahawks have essentially ended the 49ers’ season twice in the same calendar year, in the city of Seattle. So, how did we do it? Well, how do we ever do it? Punishing defense and just enough on offense.
This one was a little touch and go there in the first half. The 49ers had a 7-3 lead and the Seahawks hadn’t really done much of anything on offense. I figured it was only a matter of time before we got on the touchdown train, but there was a concern that maybe they’d have too big of a lead to overcome.
We just needed to go into halftime reasonably close. That was the key. In the first half, the 49ers were pretty much having their way with us on the ground. Granted, Kaepernick never really found his footing, but this had the potential to be a game where all he’d need to do was make a play or two and they’d have us by the balls. If we could just get into halftime without too big of a deficit, I was CONVINCED we’d be able to make the adjustments to slow them down on offense and let us get back into this game.
The offense started to move the ball better midway through the second quarter. Costly penalties had prevented us from taking advantage. But, finally, in our two-minute offense, we were able to get back into 49ers territory. We were guaranteed at least a field goal opportunity if we didn’t royally fuck up. With 8 seconds left, on third down from right around the 30 yard line, the Seahawks opted to take one last crack at the endzone. With no time outs left. I’m not gonna lie to you, part of me wanted us to just kick that field goal on third down, but there’s no way I would’ve expected the interception.
My heart stopped. Once Eric Reid got toward the sideline, he had a convoy. The only Seahawk in the screen was Little Russell Wilson, who SURELY would be swallowed up whole like Pinocchio in the belly of the whale. This was going to be a 10-point swing, turning what should’ve been a 7-6 barnburner into a 14-3 runaway. And yet, I don’t know how he did it, but Wilson threw his body into the fray, slowing the runner down just enough for someone else to run in there and make the tackle. End of half, relatively minor harm done. 7-3. We could work with this.
In the second half, you could see it all overwhelm the 49ers. Our defensive adjustments resulted in slowing down their running game. We also found our ability to pressure the quarterback. On top of that, injuries really doomed this game from a 49er perspective. Most notably was the loss of both running backs, Frank Gore (who scored their lone touchdown) and Carlos Hyde (who was their most productive runner). Once they were out of the game, and our offense stopped bungling all of our opportunities, things got a lot more comfortable for Seahawks fans.
The key of the game very well could have been the hit on Wilson that sustained our drive and resulted in a touchdown two plays later. It didn’t look to me that the defender hit Wilson with the crown of his helmet, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? Besides that, even if we kick a field goal there, we’re still up 13-7 with most of the fourth quarter to go. I don’t know if that changes much of anything about the 49ers’ subsequent clock-killer drive. I think they still end up turning it over on downs, and I think we still end up winning that game. But, if this is something that’s going to drive 49ers fans crazy until next season, then by all means THANK YOU refs! It’s about time we got a call in our favor! Shit, I’m tired of dining out on the Fail Mary all the time …
With this win, combined with the Packers losing over in Buffalo of all places, the Seahawks have the inside track on a first round BYE. Here’s what you need to know: if the Seahawks win at Arizona next Sunday night, followed by at home in Week 17 against the Rams, we’ll have one of the top two seeds.
If it’s just Seattle and Dallas tied at 12-4 going into the playoffs, then the Cowboys will have the top seed and we’ll be #2. However, if Seattle and Dallas are also tied with either the Packers or the Lions (they both can’t finish with 12-4 records, because they play one another in the final week of the season), then Seattle will take the top seed due to having a better record against common opponents. In this scenario, hilariously, the Cowboys would actually fall to the 3-seed and play in the Wild Card round (where they belong, if I’m being honest).
All you need to know is: if the Seahawks win out, good things will happen. But, here’s something to keep in mind for Week 16:
- Green Bay plays at Tampa; should be an easy Packers win
- Detroit plays at Chicago; that’s a toss-up right now, but you figure the Lions SHOULD win
- Dallas hosts Indianapolis. I don’t know if the Colts have a whole lot to play for, since they have lost to both Denver and New England, so they’re probably out of the running for a first round BYE
The great thing is, we don’t necessarily NEED the Cowboys to lose that game, if both the Packers and Lions manage to win theirs. If the Packers and Lions win next week, we’re virtually guaranteed that one of them will be 12-4 at season’s end (unless, of course, that week 17 matchup ends in a tie, causing my brain to explode).
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go to the kudos:
Bobby Wagner, led the team in tackles once again. He also had a sack, a QB hit, and two tackles for loss. Monster game all around.
Earl Thomas was a life-saver, especially in the first half when the 49ers were gashing us on some runs. If Thomas wasn’t there to clean up our messes, they might’ve really run up a big lead.
Jordan Hill, two more sacks! This guy is seriously making me happy. He’s looking more and more like a diamond in the rough of our 2013 draft class.
K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, and Kevin Williams each tallied a sack. The pressure was pretty non-existent in the first half, but they more than made up for it in the second half.
Kearse had a solid game, Baldwin had a couple big catches, and Paul Richardson had his first career TD. Not a lot of passing in this one, but they caught the ones that counted.
Pretty iffy game out of Russell Wilson, with 50% completions and that ugly interception. There were some other overthrows and otherwise off-target passes, but I’m going to give him a passing (!) grade on this one because people were giving him grief for some reason over his performance last week against the Eagles, and because he managed to break up that convoy on the interception return. Most quarterbacks don’t make that play. Russell Wilson and his never-give-up attitude is a rare breed, and we’re lucky to have him.