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Seahawks just miss clinching NFC West
SAN FRANCISCO – The NFC West wasn’t to be won on this day.
Not against this opponent – the two-time defending division champion San Francisco 49ers. Not at this venue – Candlestick Park, where the 49ers are playing their final season.
The 49ers drove 76 yards in 11 plays to a 22-yard field goal by Phil Dawson for a 19-17 victory that prevented the Seahawks from wrapping up the division title.
The loss snapped the Seahawks’ six-game winning streak and cut their lead over the 49ers in NFC to two games with three left to play in the regular season.
While the Seahawks travel to play the New York Giants next week, the 49ers will play the Buccaneers in Tampa. The Seahawks then close with home games against the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams, with the 49ers hosting the Atlanta Falcons before hosting the Cardinals.
The Seahawks got the ball first, and got a first down on their first play as Russell Wilson passed 16 yards to Golden Tate. But the possession ended when Wilson was sacked by NaVorro Bowman and fumbled out of bounds for the 12-yard loss. After the teams exchanged punts, the 49ers drove 56 yards in 10 plays to a 23-yard field goal by Phil Dawson for a 3-0 lead with 5:04 left in the quarter. Colin Kaepernick was 3 of 5 for 33 yards and ram once for 9 yards.
On the Seahawks’ next series, Kassim Osgood blocked Jon Ryan’s punt, giving the 49ers the ball at the Seahawks’ 34 with 1:52 left. Dawson then kicked a 48-yard field goal with 58 seconds left.
The second quarter provided a plethora of points. It started when a Seahawks’ drive that started at the end of the first quarter ended with Marshawn Lynch scoring on an 11-yard run to give the Seahawks the lead with 12:17 left in the half. The eight-play, 80-yard drive included a 29-yard pass from Wilson to rookie tight end Luke Willson on third-and-4 and a 24-yard catch-and-run by Tate on third-and-6. Lynch carried five times for 27 yards.
The 49ers then regained the lead when Dawson kicked a 52-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 40-yard drive with 7:56 left. Half the yards came on Kaepernick’s 20-yard to Anquan Boldin to the Seahawks’ 37.
Then the Seahawks regained the lead on Wilson’s 39-yard TD pass to Willson with 3:47 left. Wilson was 3 of 3 for 57 yards on the seven-play, 72-yard drive. Only the have the 49ers drive 72 yards in nine plays to – you guessed it – a go-ahead score. The TD came on Kaeperick’s 8-yard pass to Vernon Davis on third down and made it 16-14 with 6 seconds left.
After all those points in the second quarter, the third quarter was scoreless. Thanks to Byron Maxwell. The teams exchanged punts to open the half, but the 49ers were on the move with a first down at the Seahawks’ 20. Maxwell then picked an opportune time to make his first career interception when he picked off Kaepernick’s pass that was intended for Michael Crabtree near the goal line. But the Seahawks could not capitalize in the scoreless quarter.
The 49ers had moved to the Seahawks’ 20 on a 15-yard run by Frank Gore and Kaepernick’s 18-yard pass to Boldin. They were in position for a field goal, if not a touchdown. Maxwell, making his second career start, snuffed the drive.
The punt-fest continued to start the final quarter, as the 49ers’ Andy Lee punted twice and the Seahawks’ Jon Ryan once. But Tate returned Lee’s second punt 38 yards to the 49ers’ 27. The Seahawks generated only 14 yards in six plays, including Wilson’s 9-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse on third-and-7. But Steven Hauschka gave the Seahawks the lead with 6:20 left by kicking a 31-yard field goal.
The 49ers then drove 76 yards – 51 coming on a run by Gore – to a 22-yard field goal by Phil Dawson for the game-winner.