There won’t be any postseason for the Seahawks (7-8) in 2011. The San Francisco 49ers saw to that Saturday at CenturyLink Field when, with a dominant second half and a timely takeaway inside the two-minute mark, they defeated Seattle 19-17.
Trailing by what became the final score, Seattle had an opportunity to score on its nxt to last possession, but the 49ers’ Larry Grant stripped scrambling quarterback Tarvaris Jackson with 1:07 remaining and recovered his fumble. By the time the Seahawks got the ball back, they had less than a minute to drive for a winning field goal, and couldn’t do it.
“I would have liked him to not get hit there,” said head coach Pete Carroll. “That was a play where he tried to make too much happen. But San Francisco did a fantastic job of stripping the ball. That was a good play by them.”
Seattle got into position to win the game when, trailing 16-10, Heath Farwell, a special-teamer signed in October, came up with a huge play when he blocked a punt by Andy Lee and Seattle recovered inside the San Francisco five-yard line.
“That was an incredibly timely, clutch play,” said Carroll. “It was an All-Pro type of play.”
On the next play, a four-yard Marshawn Lynch touchdown run gave Seattle a 17-16 lead with 6:41 to go. But Seattle couldn’t hold off the 49ers.
Quarterback Alex Smith hit Michael Crabtree for 42 yards, victimizing Brandon Browner, giving San Francisco the ball on the Seattle 28. That set up David Akers’ fourth field goal, a 39-yarder with 2:47 left was the game-winner.
San Francisco came into the game with the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense against the rush, a unit that had allowed just 71 yards per game and had not allowed a rushing touchdown all season. But Lynch ran for 107 yards, the first runner to gain 100 yards against San Francisco in 36 games. Lynch’s score was first rushing TD allowed by the 49ers this season.
The 49ers were the first team in NFL history to go the first 14 games of a season without allowing a rushing touchdown.
Lynch’s touchdown also extended his own franchise record of scoring at least one to 11 consecutive games.
In addition to Lynch’s TD run, the Seahawks scored on a 13-yard pass from Jackson to rookie Doug Baldwin in the first quarter, and on a 19-yard Steven Hauschka field goal in the second.
The 49ers received four field goals from Akers — 53, 29, 44 and 38 yards — and a four-yard run from Frank Gore. With those four field goals, Akers set an NFL record for most in a season (41), breaking a 2005 mark set by former Arizona kicker Neil Rackers.
Seattle dominated the first half, Lynch running for 83 of Seattle’s 97 yards. But the 49ers dominated the line of scrimmage in the third quarter, eventually taking control of the game.
“In the third quarter, the field position shifted and we had to throw our way out of it and it didn’t work out,” said Carroll. “The whole third quarter was their quarter.”
Added Carroll: “This was a really tough game in which every point was going to make a difference. We felt like we could control the game. We were not going to back down or back off. I thought this was really, really stellar performance by us. But San Francisco did a fantastic job. They are really good. We weren’t able to neutralize what they did.
“The way we played is who we are. I just wish we hadn’t taken so long to play this way. Because of the first half (when the Seahawks went 2-6), we just didn’t get it done.”
The game might have turned in Seattle’s favor had they not botched a third-down play near the end of the first half. After Lynch was ruled not to have scored from the two-yard line on second down, the Seahawks ran a play in which confusion reigned, forcing Jackson to scramble to his left. He was knocked out of bounds a yard shy of the end zone. Had the Seahawks scored, they would have had a 14-3 lead at intermission instead of 10-3.
The Seahawks finished with 267 total yards, including 126 rushing, to San Francisco’s 349. Jackson finished with 163 yards on 15 completions in 28 attempts with one touchdown and no interceptions.
The Seahawks play their final game of the season on Sunday when they face the Cardinals in Arizona.