The Denver Broncos are hot, the Green Bay Packers are sizzling, but the Seattle Seahawks are absolutely on fire. They hung a 40 spot on the Niners, something that has not been done to them since Week 5 of the 2009 season (vs. the Falcons). Russell Wilson played phenomenally again and has pulled himself to within three passing touchdowns of tying Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 28. It is tough to tell what is the most likely cause of this shellacking. Could it be that the Seahawks are just this darn good or is it that the 49ers defense was exposed and exhausted from their game in New England last week. Perhaps it is a combination of both.
The script could not have been written more perfectly to start the game for Pete Caroll. His team won the toss and deferred the option to the second half. So the first thing that went well was that the Seattle defense forced three Colin Kaepernick incompletions and made the 49ers punt the ball on a three and out. Then (after a nice return from Leon Washington coupled with a personal foul penalty), it took the ‘Hawks just two plays to punch the ball in the end zone. The Seahawks would force another San Fran punt and then they scored on the following drive to lengthen the lead to 14-0. It was obvious that this game was going to turn into a blowout when Red Bryant blocked the chip-shot field goal attempt by David Akers and Richard Sherman returned it for a touchdown (making it 21-0). So the game would go on and Seattle took a 28-6 lead into halftime. Not much changed in the second half. The Niners were unable to get any kind of rushing attack going and this frustrated Kaepernick when he tried to pass the ball. San Francisco is not used to playing from behind like that.
Some standout players from this game include Marshawn Lynch (who is turning out to be a 49er killer), Richard Sherman (he had a bunch of good defensive plays along with his return touchdown), and of course Russell Wilson (who threw another four touchdown passes and only one interception; on a tipped pass). There was a lot of hard hitting in this game along with a few fracases, but this is to be expected in a game between rivals during a blowout. Chris Colinsworth was quick to point out that each team’s defenders were using some nice wrestling take-downs on their opponents and bringing the physical back to football. The stadium was rocking, the crowd was boisterous, and the rain was coming down steadily. The Seahawks thrive under these conditions. It was well know that the 49ers would have a tough time in this one, but nobody (unless your a Seattle fan) expected the game to turn out like this.
Besides the fact that this game was important in the determination of the NFC West, it also proved to be very important for some teams in the NFC North. Obviously the Packers wanted the Seahawks to win so that way they could have a shot at the #2 seed and a first round BYE in the playoffs. However, it is likely that all Minnesota fans wanted the 49ers to win because if they were able to cap off the victory then it would be very hard for the Packers to find way for the #2 seed, and thus their play may not have been as intense (which would have made it easier for the Vikes to win and get in the playoffs). The Chicago Bears must be pretty happy that the Seahawks won because now the Packers will be playing their hardest next week with hopes of obtaining that first round BYE. If they beat Minnesota and the Bears take care of business against the Detroit Lions, Lovie Smith’s team will find itself in the playoffs. As you can see, this game was very important to other teams besides the Niners and the Seahawks.
Seattle is turning into the proverbial “team you don’t want to see in the playoffs” with their run that they have been on. They still have a shot at the NFC West title, but that would require the Niners losing to Arizona (eh…) and them beating St Louis next week. For 49er fans, that tie with the Rams is looking pretty good right now. 10-4-1 is better than 10-5, isn’t it? Anywho, it should be an intriguing final week of regular season football for these two teams (seeing as how they both will be playing in January now that the Seahawks have clinched at least a wild card spot).