Seahawks Get Defensive, Withstand 49ers in Overtime
For a game with so much at stake between two bitter rivals atop the NFC West, neither the Seahawks nor 49ers seemed too interested in winning on Monday Night Football.
In front of a national audience in prime time, it almost felt like Christmas had come early as both teams traded fumbles and interceptions to the tune of seven combined turnovers. Even Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi got into the act, inexcusably picking up a Russell Wilson fumble before fumbling himself and giving the 49ers a touchdown in the process.
It’s only fitting such a sloppy, bizarre game needed overtime to be decided, even if both teams kept finding new ways to try to give away a victory with an extra 10 minutes on the clock.
But with the clock set to expire, Seahawks kicker Jason Myers overcame his struggles from a week ago and drilled a 42-yard field goal, giving his team a statement 27-24 prime time win.
“It took us all the way until there was nothing left,” coach Pete Carroll said, “It was a beautiful job of hanging.”
For the first two quarters as well as most of overtime, however, it didn’t feel like Seattle would have anything to celebrate about.
Coming off the gates slowly on offense, the Seahawks produced just five yards and zero points in the first quarter. Under constant duress, Wilson was sacked twice and his team couldn’t find any traction whatsoever, mustering three total first downs in the first half.
As for the 49ers, they took advantage of several defensive penalties to score 10 quick points, including a touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Kendrick Bourne with 4:14 remaining in the first quarter. They produced 11 first downs in the first 30 minutes of play, consistently taking advantage of missed tackles after the catch.
But the tide of the game changed completely late in the second quarter in a matter of seconds, with Seattle’s much-maligned defense generating the first of three turnovers that resulted in 21 points.
Dropping back to throw on 2 and 7 from the 49ers 23-yard line, Garoppolo immediately took a hit from defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who punched the football out on a strip sack. In the right place at the right time, Jadeveon Clowney scooped up the fumble and returned it 10 yards for the Seahawks first touchdown of the game, trimming the deficit to 10-7.
Despite being dominated for most of the half, Seattle went into the locker room trailing only by three. And if not for a fumble at the goal line by receiver DK Metcalf at the goal line, Carroll’s team could’ve somehow had a lead at halftime.
Momentum continued to swing into Seattle’s favor in the third quarter thanks to a stingy defense, as a pass from Garoppolo slipped through Bourne’s hands and safety Quandre Diggs hauled in his first interception as a Seahawk. He returned it all the way to the San Francisco 16-yard line and just three plays later, Wilson found tight end Jacob Hollister in the end zone to give Seattle its first lead of the night.
After a strip sack by Clowney, one of five Seattle sacks on the night, again gave the Seahawks short field, Chris Carson plunged into the end zone from a yard out to extend the advantage to 21-10. The visitors seemed to be in complete control and you could hear a pin drop in Levis Stadium.
The game wasn’t over yet, though, thanks in large part to a bizarre play early in the fourth quarter that awakened a silent 49ers fan base and energized the home team.
Looking to stay aggressive offensively, Wilson dropped back to pass on 2 and 7 from Seattle’s 35-yard line. With no receivers open, Aric Armstead and a host of San Francisco defenders ambushed him in the pocket, forcing a fumble.
Inexcusably, tackle Germain Ifedi tried to run with the fumble after scooping it up and linebacker Fred Warner punched it out of his hands, leading to a stunning 12-yard touchdown return by DeForest Buckner. Garoppolo hit Bourne for a two-point conversion and suddenly the lead dwindled to three points.
When asked about why Ifedi tried to run with the ball, a flabbergasted Carroll could only say, “What was he thinking?!”
San Francisco tacked on two more field goals in the fourth quarter, including a 39-yarder by Chase McLaughlin to tie the game with just six seconds left in regulation, sending a wild game to an extra session.
Much as they did last week in a win over the Buccaneers, Wilson and the Seahawks looked poised to steal a win in overtime, winning the coin toss and driving 61 yards on eight plays to get into the red zone. But uncharacteristically, Wilson underthrew a wheel route to Hollister and rookie Dre Greenlaw picked it off, taking it back all the way to the Seattle 49-yard line before tackle Duane Brown pushed him out of bounds.
Brown’s tackle proved to be a crucial one in a game full of so many important plays that could’ve altered the final outcome, with the 49ers unable to capitalize on Greenlaw’s fantastic interception. After picking up one first down, the 49ers ran the ball on three straight plays and the Seahawks found a way to stuff Raheem Mostert short of the line on third down.
After Seattle burned a timeout to “ice” the kicker, McLaughlin’s ensuing 47-yard attempt sliced wide left, giving Seattle renewed life once again.
The two teams traded punts over the next couple of minutes, eventually providing Myers with a shot at redemption after missing two field goals and extra point last weekend. The veteran made the most of his shot, drilling the kick before and after a 49ers timeout before being lifted up by teammates on the field.
Following one of the wildest games in franchise history, Seattle will get the rare opportunity to relish this monumental victory a bit longer heading into its bye week. Carroll hopes to see his team get healthy, especially after losing Tyler Lockett towards the end of the game with a severe leg contusion, heading into the final stretch run.
“We’re going to max out this break. These guys deserve it, they’ve been going like crazy. We haven’t taken a step other than forward since we’ve come together and hopefully we’ll come out of this thing in pretty good shape.”