Mysterious whistle, weather delay make for bizarre first quarter in Seattle
Leave it to the 49ers and Seahawks to turn in as wild and unpredictable a 0-0 first quarter as is possible.
All told, the first quarter took about an hour and 45 minutes to complete in real time, thanks to a weather delay that began at approximately 9:05 p.m. ET and lasted until just after 10. (That was almost exactly long enough for the entire East Coast to watch this week's episode of "Breaking Bad", by the way.) The game was paused with 3:13 remaining in the opening stanza, right after lightning was spotted over top of CenturyLink Field.
It was the third game this NFL season halted by inclement weather, joining Sunday's New Orleans-Tampa Bay contest and the Kickoff Game between Baltimore and Denver. The latter delay also occurred during an NBC Sunday Night Football broadcast (though the game took place on a Thursday).
The interruption in Sunday night's proceedings occurred only after an even more unusual circumstance earlier in the first quarter.
As the Seahawks lined up to punt on their first possession, several members of their line stood up after hearing what sounded like a whistle coming from somewhere in the stadium. However, since none of the officials was responsible for that phantom noise, the play continued as normal, with the 49ers blowing past Seattle's distracted front to block Jon Ryan's punt attempt.
Pete Carroll immediately began arguing with the officials over the play, and NBC's Michelle Tafoya later confirmed that Carroll was indeed complaining that his players had reacted to the random whistle. Had his team been on the road, his point may have held more weight. Instead, the play was allowed to stand, giving San Francisco the ball at Seattle's 33.
The Seahawks kept the 49ers from scoring on the ensuing possession, with Earl Thomas picking off a Colin Kaepernick pass. Perhaps that's fortunate, as any San Francisco points coming as a result of the blocked punt would have been at least somewhat controversial.