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Seahawks thunder past 49ers
Sole possession of first place in the NFC West never looked so good just two games into the season.
But that’s where the Seahawks find themselves after storming to a 29-3 victory over the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers in Sunday night’s nationally televised home opener before a CenturyLink Field-record crowd of 68,338 revved up fans – and on coach Pete Carroll’s 62nd birthday.
The Seahawks got three touchdowns from Marshawn Lynch and interceptions from three-quarters of their Legion of Boom secondary – Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor – in running their record to 2-0. The last time the Seahawks started 2-0 was in 2006.
The 49ers slipped to 1-1 and into a tie for second in the NFC West with the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
The outcome also extended the Seahawks’ winning streak at CenturyLink Field to nine consecutive games in the regular season. Their last loss at home came to the 49ers in Week 16 of the 2011 season.
The Seahawks took a 5-0 lead in a first half that included a little bit of everything – including a 60-minute delay when a thunderstorm moved through the downtown area.
The Seahawks got their first points when 49ers fullback Bruce Miller was penalized for holding linebacker Malcolm Smith in the end zone for a safety with 10:39 left in the half.
The Seahawks got the ball at the 49ers’ 49 after Golden Tate returned the free kick 24 yards, but the drive stalled when Russell Wilson was stopped just short on a fourth-and-1 run. The Seahawks got the ball right back as Leo end Cliff Avril had a fumble-forcing sack on third down and linebacker K.J. Wright recovered at the 49ers’ 29 to set up a 30-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that made it 5-0 with 5:52 left.
Michael Bennett had a solid half as the versatile defensive line man collected a sack, from the ground with 323-pound tackle Antony Davis on top of him late in the first quarter, and beat a double-team block in dropping Frank Gore for a 2-yard loss on a first-down play late in the second quarter.
Russell Okung, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl left tackle when out with a foot injury in the second quarter, so Paul McQuistan slid from left guard to left tackle and was replaced at guard by James Carpenter.
In the opening quarter, before the weather delay, each QB threw an interception, the Seahawks’ Golden Tate broke a 33-yard punt return and the 49ers blocked a punt.
Earl Thomas, the Seahawks’ All-Pro free safety intercepted a pass that was deflected at the goal line and also broke up another pass five plays before making his pick in the opening quarter. On third-and-goal from the Seahawks’ 5-yard line, following Craig Dahl’s block of a Jon Ryan punt, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick went to tight end Vernon Davis at the goal line. But cornerback Walter Thurmond deflected the pass and Thomas intercepted the ball, returning it 11 yards to squelch the scoring opportunity.
The last time a Seahawks game was suspended during play due to the weather was in 1998. It happened in Kansas City on Oct. 4 – also in a nationally televised game – when lightning was striking too close to Arrowhead Stadium. The game did resume after a 54-minute delay, and the Chiefs won 17-6. Warren Moon remembers, because the QB-turned-radio-analyst got cracked ribs in the game. The kickoff to the Seahawks-49ers game here in 2006 – also in a nationally televised game on Thursday night Dec. 14 – was delayed a few minutes because of heavy rain.
The Seahawks took the second half kickoff and drove 80 yards in 10 plays to a 14-yard touchdown run by Lynch that made it 12-0 with 9:12 to play. Lynch had one strange series, as he opened the drive with runs of 3, 8 and 2 yards and then was stopped for losses of 4 yards twice before scoring.
The 49ers got their first - and only - points on a 21-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, which capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive that featured a 28-yard scramble and completions of 19 and 17 yards.
The Seahawks had the ball for 17 plays in the quarter and Lynch got the ball on 10 of them – for better or worse.
On the Seahawks’ TD drive, they were facing a third-and-12 from their own 29. But Russell Wilson scrambled to buy time, including squirting between a couple of defenders, before completing a 51-yard pass to Doug Baldwin to the 49ers’ 20.
The Seahawks also scored on the third play of the fourth quarter, on Wilson’s 7-yard TD pass to Lynch on third-and-4 that made it 19-3 and capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive. And, they got the ball right back as Sherman intercepted a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Davis on the second play of the ensuing series. Sherman’s pick at the 49ers’ 25 set up a 37-yard field goal by Hauschka that made it 22-3 with 11:31 to play. Lynch scored again with 4:22 left, on a 2-yard run that was set up by Chancellor’s interception.
Lynch finished with 98 rushing yards on 28 carries.