SANTA CLARA, Calif.—The Seahawks are heading into their bye week on a high note after a wild, turnover-filled overtime victory.
The 49ers looked to have control of the game early, only to see the Seahawks come storming back, then just when it looked like Seattle was in control, the 49ers got a defensive score to get back in it.
And on night where nothing came easy for either team, overtime seemed almost inevitable, and after even more strange happenings, Jason Myers eventually drilled the game winner to give the Seahawks a 27-24 victory at Levi’s Stadium.
Here are six rapid reactions to the win, which improved Seattle’s record to 8-2 while handing the 8-1 49ers their first loss of the season.
1. The defense turned things around after a tough start.
The Seahawks weren’t happy with their play on defense last week despite a victory, and overall this season hasn’t lived up to Seattle’s standards on that side of the ball, particularly when it comes to a pass rush that produced just 15 sacks through nine games.
And when the 49ers moved down the field for two scores on their first two possessions to take a 10-0 lead, it looked like it could be a long evening for the Seahawks defense. But following those two early scores, Seattle’s defense turned things around in a big way.
Following those two first-quarter scores, the 49ers next nine possessions went punt, punt, fumble, punt, end of half, turnover on downs, interception, fumble, punt, before the offense finally scored again, driving for a game-tying field goal midway through the fourth quarter.
Along the way the Seahawks got a defensive touchdown by Jadevon Clowney, who returned a fumble caused by Jarran Reed 10 yard for the score, an interception by safety Quandre Diggs in his first game with the Seahawks, and a forced fumble by Clowney that was recovered by Poona Ford.
In addition to Clowney’s score the other two turnovers helped set up Seahawks touchdowns.
Perhaps most encouraging from Seattle’s defense was emergence of a pass rush that has struggled to come alive this season. The Seahawks sacked 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo five times, hit him 10 times and pressured him into incomplete passes on a few other occasions.
Unfortunately the defense couldn’t get the stop it needed at the end of regulation, as the 49ers were able to drive for a game-tying field goal to send it to overtime. The defense did, however, get two big stops in overtime, forcing the 49ers into a long field goal attempt following a Russell Wilson interception, which was missed, keeping the Seahawks alive, then getting a quick three-and-out to set up one final possession for the offense, which led to the game-winning drive.
The defense also held the league's second best rushing offense in check by allowing only 87 yards on 27 carries. Heading into the game the 49ers rushing offense had average over 170 yards per game.
2. Jadeveon Clowney was phenomenal.
Clowney has been one of Seattle’s best players all season since joining the team in a trade, but this game might have been his best yet in a Seahawks uniform. In addition to his fumble recovery for a touchdown, his second of the season, Clowney had a sack/forced fumble to set up another touchdown, recorded five tackles, five quarterback hits, and made a number of plays that didn’t show up in the stat book, such as a pressure in the fourth quarter that caused Garoppolo to pump fake and hold the ball long enough for Al Woods to get the sack.
3. Jason Myers came through in a big, big way.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was quick to stand up for kicker Jason Myers last week after he missed two field goals and an extra point, and Myers rewarded that faith in a big way on Monday.
In addition to making all three extra points, Myers made two clutch field goals, one a 46-yarder late in regulation to give the Seahawks the lead, and most importantly, a 42-yarder in overtime to win it.
4. Jacob Hollister came through again.
Jacob Hollister, who began this season on Seattle’s practice squad, didn’t have a touchdown catch in his career prior to last week, but he has suddenly become a red-zone threat in the past two weeks for the Seahawks as injuries pile up at tight end. Already playing without starting tight end Will Dissly, who is on injured reserve, the Seahawks lost Luke Willson to a hamstring injury in the first half on Monday, leaving Hollister as the only healthy tight end other than tackle George Fant. Hollister responded with a team-high eight catches for 62 yards, including an absurd 3-yard touchdown catch despite a ton of contact.
Hollister now has three touchdowns in his past two games after snagging two last week, including the game-winner in overtime.
5. Shaquem Griffin appears to have a new role.
While second-year linebacker Shaquem Griffin has been a mainstay on special teams, he had not played a snap on defense in Seattle’s first nine games. That changed on Monday, with Griffin coming in several times on third downs as a standup edge rusher. Griffin didn’t record any sacks or hits, but he did pressure Garoppolo with one rush, flushing the 49ers quarterback out of the pocket to force an incomplete pass.
6. Fumbles remain a problem for the Seahawks. And on this night a rare interception was too.
While the Seahawks total turnover numbers aren’t bad this season, that is mostly the result of Wilson having thrown only one interception prior to Monday’s game. What hasn’t been as good for a team that last year had the fewest turnovers in the league, however, is ball security for running backs and receivers.
In Monday’s game, the Seahawks lost three more fumbles, and while first two didn’t lead to San Francisco points thanks to stops by the defense, a third, which came on a sack of Russell Wilson, who fumbled, only to have Germain Ifedi recover, then lose a fumble himself, which was returned for a 49ers touchdown.
Seattle’s first two fumbles did't give the 49ers points, but they almost certainly cost Seattle points seeing as both came in San Francisco territory. DK Metcalf had the ball stripped while fighting for extra yardage near the goal line late in the first half, keeping the Seahawks from tying the game or taking a lead before halftime, and then on Seattle’s first possession of the second half, Rashaad Penny fumbled after the Seahawks had moved the ball into 49ers territory. Chris Carson, who has lost four fumbles this season, also fumbled in the red zone later in the third quarter, but Joey Hunt was able to recover it, a huge play seeing as the Seahawks scored a touchdown two plays later.
Wilson, who is usually so good with the ball, threw an uncharacteristic interception in overtime, but fortunately the defense got the stops needed, then Wilson led an eventual game-winning drive.