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Seahawks Hand 49ers First Defeat in Overtime Thriller

The class of the NFC West battled for 70 minutes on Monday night in a turnover-filled affair that saw Russell Wilson and Seattle end San Francisco's unbeaten streak.
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To pinpoint the last time the 49ers and Seahawks played a mutually meaningful game of football, you must travel back almost five years to Thanksgiving night 2014. Seattle, locked in a tie atop the NFC West at the time with San Francisco at 7-4, went to The Bay and spanked the 49ers 19-3, prompting a festive midfield postgame dinner for Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman and a public apology from Niners CEO Jed York. It also toppled the first domino that led to the collapse of the Jim Harbaugh-Colin Kaepernick era while the Seahawks marched through the rest of the NFC to win their second Super Bow–ah, never mind.

Fast forward five years, and a retooled, undefeated San Francisco team once again faced down its rival from the Pacific Northwest on home turf in a pivotal NFC midseason matchup. It was the best game of the season to this point between two of the NFL’s top teams, and it took all 70 minutes of regulation and overtime for the Seahawks to finally capitalize on one of their numerous opportunities to secure a W, closing the deal on a 42-yard Jason Myers field goal as time expired to win 27-24.

The game was once again a defensive struggle from the get-go despite scoring totals in the 20s for both teams. The Houston Texans likely watched this game as a single tear rolled slowly down their collective cheek while Jadeveon Clowney menaced Jimmy Garoppolo to the tune of a strip-sack, five quarterback hits and a scoop-and-score fumble recovery. The rest of Seattle’s defensive line made a statement against the third-ranked rushing offense in the league, holding San Francisco to just 87 yards on the ground, planting Garoppolo in the Levi’s Stadium turf five times and forcing two fumbles. The 28th-ranked Seahawks secondary held up well, nabbing a key third-quarter interception and a vital, athletic pass breakup by Shaquill Griffin in front of a streaking Deebo Samuel in overtime. All said, Seattle’s three takeaways resulted in the 21 points the Seahawks needed to force the game to overtime.

Of course, Seattle’s MVP-candidate quarterback helped along the way. Russell Wilson sees you, Lamar Jackson, and he raises you a 24-of-34, 232-yard, one-touchdown outing accompanied by 53 yards on the ground with a game-winning drive to boot. Though not quite the stat-stuffer turned in Sunday by Jackson, Wilson reminded the kid he’s been at this a while. Wilson proved to be just as slippery and accurate outside the pocket, dancing out of tackles and looking as comfortable throwing on the move as any quarterback in recent memory. Chris Carson ran hard for 89 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries while D.K. Metcalf continues to prove he’s far more than an outrageous set of abs, leading the way with six receptions for 70 yards. 

Despite trailing 10-0 well into the second quarter, despite blowing a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead and despite Wilson’s red zone interception on the first drive of overtime, the Seahawks got to watch Myers, coming off a week in which he missed two field goals and an extra point, win the game with his second clutch kick of the night.

As for the 49ers, their defense turned in a herculean effort and outclassed their opponents up until the final drive of the game. The Niners logged five sacks–including an absurd three in third-down situations that brings their season total to 18–and six tackles for loss, suffocating the Seahawks for most of the first half and keeping Wilson parked on the pine. Fred Warner logged nine solo tackles and two sacks, DeForest Buckner pounced on a pair of fumbles (taking one out of the hands of Germain Ifedi and into the end zone for a touchdown) while Jaquiski Tartt added a recovery of his own, and backup linebacker Dre Greenlaw (starting in place of the injured Kwon Alexander) appeared to nab the game-winning interception off Wilson in the red zone during overtime.

But Garoppolo and the offense couldn’t finish it off. Though the return of Joe Staley and Kyle Juszczyk was expected to bolster the run game, San Francisco struggled rushing the ball. Garoppolo finished a serviceable 24-of-46 for 248 yards, a touchdown and an interception, with Samuel hauling in eight of those completions for 112 yards. Garoppolo was without the services of top target George Kittle and newcomer Emmanuel Sanders (who left after the first half with a rib injury), but he threw three straight incompletions on the 49ers’ final drive (the dreaded OT three-and-out), went 1-of-5 in overtime and never looked comfortable coming down the stretch. Point the finger at Chase McLaughlin if you want, but the rookie kicker called in on short notice to replace Robbie Gould went 4-for-4 (including an extra point) before his wild shank with the game on the line in overtime. That’s a lot to ask of a rookie placekicker, and Garoppolo didn’t do him many favors late.

As for the victorious Seahawks, it was a game they were in position to win several times and eventually did. With the younger wave of NFL head coaches represented by Kyle Shanahan on the opposite sideline, resident old man Pete Carroll (as dashing a 68-year-old as I ever did see) demonstrated that his system and M.O. is still effective despite retaining only four players from that Super Bowl team from over five years ago. And though Sherman won’t be chowing down on any postgame turkey legs this time, his ex-coach and quarterback will enjoy their second overtime win in as many weeks.

Best of all? This was just the appetizer. These two will meet again in Seattle during Week 17, likely with some sort of divisional implications on the line. After that, a divisional matchup or NFC Championship showdown are both in play. Given the quality, excitement and energy of Monday night’s game, a postseason matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers would be quite a doozy.

One of the best NFL rivalries of the past decade is heating up again, and it’s not even at a boil yet.

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