Posted January 19, 2014

First Down/Fourth Down: Seahawks claim an instant classic over the 49ers

First Down/Fourth Down, NFC West, NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks
This pick from Malcolm Smith (center) sealed the Seahawks' win over the 49ers.

This pick from Malcolm Smith (center) sealed the Seahawks’ win over the 49ers. (Pouya Dianat/SI)

The Philadelphia Eagles were an entertaining story during the regular season. So, too, were the upstart Carolina Panthers and the resilient Green Bay Packers and the reunited New Orleans Saints.

Deep down, though, just about everyone had a feeling that the Seahawks and 49ers were the NFC’s best teams — even more so given how hot San Francisco ran at the close of the regular season. The rivals proved their worth Sunday in a sensational, brutal NFC Championship Game that ended with Seattle advancing to Super Bowl XLVIII on a 23-17 win.

Was it always pretty? Far from it. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch botched a handoff for a goal-line fumble, while Colin Kaepernick threw a ridiculous interception. There were dropped passes and false starts and horrific injuries.

And it was mesmerizing.

In the end, the Seahawks won it as they had won most of their games this season: with Russell Wilson making something out of nothing and their defense standing tall. The latter made the decisive play, courtesy of a flying tip by Richard Sherman leading to a fortuitous interception from Malcolm Smith. It was never easy, nor did anyone expect it to be despite Seattle’s two recent beatdowns of San Francisco at CenturyLink Field.

But after a rather disappointing AFC title game, this matchup provided everything NFL fans could have wanted … and then some. The best and worst from a drama-filled NFC championship:

First Down: Defense.

Sherman will be the hero for his last-minute play to prevent the 49ers from grabbing a remarkable road victory. There was far more going on in this game, however, from start to finish.

Aldon Smith set the tone for the evening on the very first snap, shoving off a block, reading Wilson’s eyes and chasing down the Seattle QB for a strip sack. Aside from allowing a long TD run by Lynch, the San Francisco linebacking corps hardly let up, either.

Seattle, meanwhile, put the clamps on San Francisco’s offense after falling behind 17-10. Kam Chancellor announced the shift in momentum with a rousing hit on Vernon Davis, which jarred he ball loose from the 250-pound tight end. Were it not for Colin Kaepernick’s ability to escape the pocket and scramble, the Seahawks would have turned in a fully dominant performance.

Fourth Down: An awful rule and NaVorro Bowman’s leg.

There is nothing worse when it comes to the NFL than seeing a player suffer a gruesome injury — an all-too-frequent occurrence, if we’re being honest. Just such a thing happened to 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, and because of an awful ruling on the field and worse explanation in the rule book, we had to sit through a slow-motion replay of the horror multiple times over.

On a 3rd-and-10 from the San Francisco 10, Wilson tried to squeeze a tight pass into Jermaine Kearse near the goal line. Kearse had possession for a brief instant before Bowman wrestled the ball away and maintained possession despite his left leg bending at a devastating angle. To nearly everyone viewing the play, it looked like an interception.

Emphasis on “nearly.” The officials on the field ruled it a fumble, then gave Seattle possession after a Seahawk ripped the ball from Bowman as he lay on the ground in agony. Worse yet, because of that call, the play was not reviewable, which is absurd in its own right.

Lynch fumbled on the next snap, a 4th-and-goal from the 1 — but the 49ers couldn’t capitalize (more on that below).

First Down: Those Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick TD passes.

The way this game was trending, it was hard to imagine anything short of a highlight-reel play turning the tide. Then, Wilson and Kaepernick delivered two.

It was Kaepernick first, somehow dropping an off-balance beauty of a throw over the Seattle defense to Anquan Boldin for a go-ahead touchdown. Wilson — well, if we’re being honest, Jermaine Kearse — responded on a 4th-and-7 free play after San Francisco jumped offsides. The Seahawks’ QB took a shot, slipping a lob pass through heavy traffic to Kearse for six.

Fourth Down: That Colin Kaepernick interception.

No, not that last one — just give credit to Sherman for an unreal play in the back of the end zone there. The one before that, right after Lynch’s goal-line fumble gave San Francisco the ball back down by three. In trying to find Anquan Boldin, Kaepernick made an inexcusable read, somehow missing Kam Chancellor in coverage right in front of Boldin.

Chancellor made a leaping INT, which set up the Seahawks to kick a field goal for a six-point lead. That deficit forced the 49ers to look for the end zone late, rather than taking it a little more conservatively as they might have had they needed only three to force overtime.

First Down: Beast Mode.

Marshawn Lynch is built for the playoffs. He treats every single run this time of year (and, really, throughout the entire season) like it is the most important of his career. That approach paid off yet again Sunday, when Lynch broke loose out of a pack near the line of scrimmage and scampered 40 yards for a crucial, game-tying touchdown in the third quarter.

Somehow, that run was only as impressive as several others throughout the day, including a rather inconsequential two-yard gainer late. Lynch was hit about six yards deep on a busted play there, then somehow shook off multiple tackles and plowed his way for a short gain.

Few running backs in the league are as consistently impressive as Lynch. He will get another crack on the game’s biggest stage because of that quality.

Fourth Down: Vernon Davis.

Seattle has done a number on opposing tight ends all season, so perhaps singling out Davis is unfair. But the 49ers needed more from their star tight end Sunday, especially as Anquan Boldin struggled early and Michael Crabtree was unable to find much room. Kaepernick looked Davis’ way a mere three times, resulting in two receptions for 16 yards and that huge forced incompletion by Chancellor.

In each of the past two postseasons, Davis was close to unstoppable. He averaged 146 yards and two touchdowns in a pair of playoff games in 2011, then topped 100 yards receiving against Atlanta and Baltimore last year. He ended this run with a total of five catches in three games.

149 comments
JPG
JPG

Agree with Phil Simms.  This was the greatest game in years. And 60.1 million viewers witnessed the interception.

It doesn't get any better than that.

NickBerryessa
NickBerryessa

Fiinaly a real foot ball game! Hard hitting, bones braking, helmets flying, annd sore lossers. I'm shure the sea hawk fans know what itfeals like to lose a game that means so much. Then they also should just le the 9er fans vent.The truth is the refs had a hard calling game because boath teams were playing back yard football.Kaper is known to throw a lot of interseptions, and it is expected. Thats probably why he runs so much. Hears one 9er fan that will root for the hawks on SB day. Refs made some bad calls, but it will be good fuel to push the 9ers harder next time. Don't think the 9ers could have played the SB with the injury list anyway.

mellotronman424112
mellotronman424112

a really good game. poor ref decisions did hurt the 49ers..but the clock managment in the last minute was terrible. why didn they call time out instead of the ill advised throw into double coverage. ?/ 


there was 55 sec left..a first down  so why not burn a time out and call several plays- ?  that is what really cost SF the game.


even so, it took a great defensive effort to stop the crabtree catch..a better route  and the niners would have stunned the seahawks.

mikemos1
mikemos1

I can't believe some people are claiming the refs decided that game. Most actual football fans agree it was a great game and the 49ers made one mistake too many. The turnover when Bowman got hurt was a bad call, but Seattle turned it over the next play so any advantage was negated. As for any other calls, they were of no consequence.

da*fan
da*fan

I was not going for either team so I don't care to point out the truth and say this was an unfair game. I honestly could have cared less about who won and proceeded to the SB. But after the gut wrenching calls that were being made makes me hope those refs never ref again. Every game in the NFL has its share of unfair calls, but this was a biased game right from the start. We all know it. Why else did Seattle not offer to sell California tickets to this game and how were so many calls against Seahawks missed? How were so many false penalties givin to the 9ers? Come on, even penalties that ACTUALLY WERE called on Seattle weren't as strict as they should have been. 15 vs 5 yards is huge. And it WAS the planting foot.of the kicker that was hit, which IS a 15 yard penalty but was never called. It was biased, but that's okay what goes around comes around. Good luck Seahawks.

picklejuice
picklejuice

Now the 49ers can talk for another 20 years about "The Catch" and "The Interception".

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

49ers were jobbed all playoffs long and it finally was too much to overcome.

The terrible officiating in the Green Bay game highlighted by that 4th down play where Rodgers got away from a clear sack thanks to obvious holding.

The Panthers game where Skuta was flagged for Cam Newton running into him.

And last night, they allowed the Seattle secondary to hold and grab jersey's all night only calling 1 pass interference penalty against them. Disgraceful officiating.

jabber_wolf
jabber_wolf

Instant classic with because of horrible reffing !!

Seems the only way to beat the 49ers is to have bad reffing.

2 times it should have been the 49ers ball.z


Bad decision on penalties of 5 yards versus 15 .. and those were just a few but cost the game.


If there is THAT much of a dispute, the guy up in the booth should call down to the refs in the field and TELL them to do a replay at their own discretion because it was SO SOO OBVIOUSLY WRONG !!



RandySandberg
RandySandberg

Tremendous defense by both teams.  It was wonderful football.  I hate to say it, but in 2 weeks, we'll be out of football for 7 months!  What's left? NBA?

nyljsf2
nyljsf2

Instant classic my A$$

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

At least I was right when i wrote that the Sea.-SanF. game had the potential to be the game of the decade . The Super Bowl could be as good . Go Seahawks , redemption is on it's way !

Eh Indianapolis , how does it feel this morning ?

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Disgraceful officiating in this one, you obviously could tell who roger wanted in the SB. Clearly the better team lost. 

Imrad
Imrad

Does Kaepernicknot own a suit and a tie that he can put on while giving pre and post game interviews?  You're the face of the franchise, a  millionaire, and you are dressed worse than an extra on a music video.

terrace420
terrace420

Freak ya baby!! Ya ya excuses excuses!!!

It's our time !!!

GO HAWKS !!!!! Remember we have 30 years to get the 5 rings

You guys rub in our faces, and it's about to get ugly for you whiners.

Watch your coach go elsewhere. He is the biggest crybaby, ill take pistol Pete and rw allday!!!!

DiamondMask
DiamondMask

and you can tell everybody................


GO HAWKS!

arthur3
arthur3

Close, hard fought game. But one for the ages? Not a chance. Tremendous number of stupid mistakes, sandlot plays (many botched), unwarranted woofing, and the rest. Nice game, better than the first one today, but this was no classic.

scarbarough
scarbarough

@mikemos1 If anything, it was a positive for the 49ers, since they got the ball back at the ~10 rather than 6 inches from the goal line...

Dreeb
Dreeb

@da*fan Uh what? You sound pretty biased yourself there. First off, unfair calls were placed on both teams and things weren't called against the 49ers, like the hit against Jeremy Lane or multiple holding calls. Not to mention 2-3 pass interference calls clearly visible onscreen against the 49ers.


Why didn't Seattle allow tickets to be sold in California? I don't know, why did Denver restrict their ticketing to specific states as well? Probably because they want their home field championship game to have fans of the home team there and able to buy tickets. It's actually fairly common to do so, but because of the rivalry between Seattle and Frisco, the media made it into a bigger deal than it needed to be.


The only call you can even have a problem with is the "roughing the kicker" call. Outside of that, it was a well called game and the Bowman fumble recovery actually turned out to be in 49ers favor due to the fumble AGAIN the next play.


Stop being salty.

Dreeb
Dreeb

@ElvisHitler You sound like Jim Harbaugh. Apparently you didn't watch the Carolina game too carefully, since it was heavily called in your favor.


Your team lost because they weren't the better team. Kaepernick choked, threw two interceptions and couldn't get the running game going in the second half. If you can't run and you're going against a secondary that's better than your receivers, you're going to lose.



kmac360
kmac360

@ElvisHitler Hahaha!  Really?  You're honestly going to claim the 9ers lost because they got jobbed by the refs?  How about this... they got beat.  Bad calls go both ways.  As a Seattle fan, I hate when people claim the Hawks lost their first Super Bowl because of the refs.  I also knew you 9ers fans just couldn't accept that your QB blew it.  You can't turn the ball over like that and beat a good team.  Great season - SF was for sure the hottest team going into the playoffs, but weeks on the road ending in a ruthless C-Link was a little too much.  Keep blaming the refs though.  Whatever you have to tell yourself.

jabber_wolf
jabber_wolf

And 1 or 2 bad calls is bad... but when you have about 4 in a row and hand over the ball to the other team.. it DOES change the outcome of a close game.

The SeaHawks just better remember to send some thank you cards to the refs, they could not have done it without them.

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@ElvisHitler HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!! I posted a comment on the pre game thread that when your Niners lost, you would either blame the refs or the NFL. Thank you for being so predictable. That play on the goal line should of been reviewable and next year I'm sure it will be. But besides the knee injury, which would of happened with or without the review, they got the ball on the very next play. Nines got beat cause their QB CAN'T throw the ball accurately!! Kaep would be the total package if he was an accurate throwing QB. He can run like the wind, but his throwing fundamentals need a lot of work. Seattle was favored for a reason and they proved why last night. 

JoeBrown
JoeBrown

He dresses like he's going to the club. Wilson dresses like a professional, Wilson also is the better QB and his actions including the way he dresses says it. Kapernick on the other hand is a classless showoff who dresses like someone who doesn't belong in the start king QB role. I see him being a back up in the near future.

jabber_wolf
jabber_wolf

@Shalaka Maybe someone shouldnt be charging through the sidelines at high speed. He's wearing a helmet and gear and didnt care about anyone else getting hurt on that sideline. 

Ken14
Ken14

@Shalaka I guess those Seahawks fans throwing garbage at NaVarro Bowman as he's getting carted off the field---with a possible career-ending injury---was "classy" too?

jabber_wolf
jabber_wolf

@terrace420 Hawks are a bunch of losers and always will be. They come out with this win, only because of bad reffing. They are only too happy for this because the only other record they hold is noise from a badly built stadium. Basically they cant break any record without cheating.

alpineracer
alpineracer

@kmac360 @ElvisHitler If Seattle didn't keep getting free possessions courtesy of the refs, there very likely would have been a different outcome, regardless of the errors Kapernick made in the 4th quarter. Obviously its impossible to say what would have happened if the game had been called accurately, but get off your high-horse acting like seattle won it 100% on their own merit, or the niners blew it 100% on their own errors. The footage doesn't lie; nearly every incorrect and thus potentially game changing call went Seattle's way and that's why its much harder to just roll over an accept a loss as a loss. The refs were one of many factors, and you're an idiot to pretend they don't have their roll in contributing to the final score. 

Dreeb
Dreeb

@jabber_wolf Oh man, I can't believe the refs called those two passes interceptions! What were they thinking?!

jabber_wolf
jabber_wolf

@Voiceover310 @ElvisHitler No but they would have had another minute or another 10 yards and SF could have run it in with that amount.

And the SeaHawks fans are no louder - they are only soo happy they got this atrocious win because the only record they hold, is noise pollution from a badly built stadium. 

JoeBrown
JoeBrown

They are called the forty whiners for a reason. And they imulate there sorry QB and coach so what do you expect from them? Go Hawks baby and well that $7,000 billboard fail work out for ya lol

RandySandberg
RandySandberg

@JoeBrownThere is a difference in cultures between Kap and Wilson.  Which one would you rather have your kids imitating?

TehMoose
TehMoose

@jabber_wolf Maybe you didn't watch the clip, he was pushed out of bounds by two 49ers on the PR. 


Doesn't excuse the forearm shiv. 

Dreeb
Dreeb

@Ken14 @Shalaka It was one fan and the handful of popcorn kernels didn't even touch Bowman. Salty bro!

scarbarough
scarbarough

@Ken14 @Shalaka Absolutely not, and I hope (as a Seahawks fan) that they can figure out who did it, and ban them from the stadium permanently.

akendall1129
akendall1129

@Ken14 @Shalaka Whats the big deal? Its not like they threw D Batteries at him, or snowballs at Santa. Things like this happen at every sporting event, just cause it was on camera doesn't mean it never happens elsewhere. 

TehMoose
TehMoose

@jabber_wolf  Last I checked they won last night. That makes the 49ers the losers. 


The reffing was no worse than it has been all season. Any Seahawk fan will tell you "Don't put yourself in a position where the refs can lose the game for you." I don't think Kap heard that advice with his beats on, as he threw two picks and had a lost fumble in the 4th last night. 


*That's* why you lost. Not because of a bad call. 

FredMango
FredMango

@jabber_wolf @terrace420  I was at the game last night. The stadium seemed fine to me. Not a bad seat to be had. I agree with you that the rule about replay was wrong but there were no points because of it, so the final score was not effected. The truth, I like this Sea/SF rivalry It's fun and exciting. Both teams played their butts off last night and I can't wait until next year. It's what makes football fun. It could have gone either way and I like it that it's AFC West vs NFC West. The East coast writers can suck it. 

kmac360
kmac360

@jabber_wolf @Voiceover310 @ElvisHitler Yep.. C-Link is a dump.  Especially compared to the Stick, right?  When you go to the new stadium next year, don't forget to bring your "How to cheer at a football game" guide the 9ers sent out.

ark0n
ark0n

@JoeBrown Imulate - learn to speak English, it may help you one day