The Seahawks knew they had their hands full with the NFC West-leading 49ers coming to town, and that to get a win, they would have to play well for four quarters.
But instead of putting together the type of performance that could beat a good team like San Francisco, the Seahawks made several costly mistakes on their way to a big halftime deficit, which was too much to overcome despite some considerable improvements, particularly on defense, in the second half.
And in the end, the Seahawks found themselves on the wrong end of a 31-13 score, a loss that dropped Seattle's record to 6-5, two games behind the 49ers in the division.
"It was a big opportunity tonight playing a really good team, good setting, good opportunity for us to be at home," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "The first half of this game we couldn't get out of our way enough to make them go long fields and they keep the football, and so they got off to a great start."
The 49ers marched down the field for a quick touchdown on the game's opening possession, then after the teams traded punts, they built momentum thanks to short fields with Seattle's offense struggling to get first downs in the first half, in some cases going backwards on drives such as when Geno Smith tripped on the foot of Zach Charbonnet, which nearly resulted in a safety. The Seahawks also had a pair of turnovers in the first half, one a Smith interception and the other a punt muffed by DeeJay Dallas, all of which added up to 24-3 halftime score.
"This is a really difficult team to play when you give them stuff and give them the field position opportunities and we don't make our first downs," Carroll said. "Hard for everybody I guess tonight, so we saw what that was like. It's a tough stretch coming up for up, as challenging as it can get, and we got to clean it up. We cannot give our opponents the opportunity to have short fields and expect to get the kind of results we want. So as always, the ball determines so much of it. The turnovers determine so much of it. It's like the one for us almost did for us, too. Kind of turns the whole feeling of the game around. So we go back to work. Got to get our stuff done. We got a really challenging game coming up next week, and we don't have any time but to get back to work and do stuff right, coaches, players, everybody, all of us do. Starts with me."
The Seahawks did show fight in the second half, particularly a defense that allowed only three points off two turnovers, and gave up only one second-half score while also scoring Seattle's only touchdown on a Jordyn Brooks interception that he returned for a touchdown. But those second-half improvements weren't enough in a game in which a very good opponent was able to capitalize on the Seahawks' first-half mistakes.
"We need to start faster, both sides of the ball," said safety Quandre Diggs. "You can't come out and let those guys get momentum and jump up and try to fight your way back into the game. Because at the end of the day, when you've got to throw the ball and those guys are ready to rush, and when they're up they can run the ball and kind of play their game. So for us, we need to start faster, collectively as a team, and we've got to play complementary football. That's all it is.
Added linebacker Bobby Wagner, "We just have to be better. This is a big moment, big game, and there are little things we can control that we can lock in and be better that."
Brooks, who in addition to his first interception also had a team-high 12 touchdowns, noted that the Seahawks didn't come out ready to play early, but said he isn't concerned about that being a problem going forward.
"I'm not concerned," he said. "That's just football. It's week to week, and this week wasn't our week."
Going forward, Brooks said, the Seahawks need to, "Look at ourselves, hold ourselves accountable, and be truthful with what we see on film and how we can get better. We've got six games left, so it's playoff mode right now. I think we've just got to come ready to work and take it day by day."
Like Brooks, nose tackle Jarran Reed didn't like what he saw from his team on Thursday, calling it "a reality check," but at the same time he says he has faith in the team to respond well to this loss.
Asked why he wasn't concerned, Reed said, "Because I have faith in this team. I've got faith. I got plenty of faith. We work hard, we run hard, we're together. We just have to put it all together. And we've got to do that quick."
The refrain of being in playoff mode was one repeated by Carroll and several players, which makes sense given the caliber of opponents coming up for the Seahawks, who play at Dallas (8-3) next Thursday, at San Francisco (8-3) in Week 14, then home against the Eagles (9-1) in Week 15.
"This is playoff time every week," Carroll said. "We got plenty of chances with the teams we'll play in the next month that will show us where we are and where we fit with all that."
Added Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who provided one of the Seahawks' few offensive highlights, a spectacular one-handed grab down the right sideline, "We're in playoff mode right now. So we just have to take pride in what we're doing and go out there and give it our all. They had our number tonight, but we see them again in two weeks, so hopefully we can change the result."
Since beating the 49ers four straight times in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and winning 17 out of 20 dating back to 2013, the Seahawks have now lost four in a row to San Francisco over the last two seasons, including a playoff loss in January, but players know they can't focus on that past, only what lies ahead, including a tough remaining schedule that includes another shot at the 49ers next month.
"It's one game, we lost one game tonight," Smith said. "They beat us. Hat's off to them. They're a really good team. They showed it tonight. But I don't feel like we need to let one game affect the next one. We got more games to play. We got to keep moving forward. Like I said, we got to work harder. I'm definitely going to do that starting tomorrow.
"They beat us. Simple as that. Can't make an excuse for it. It's football, sports. Sometimes a team comes out and beats you. But the good thing about it is we got another chance to go against these guys in a few weeks. I think everyone has to take that personal. I know I am. We all got to take it personal. Can't keep coming out here and letting them beat us like that."
Check out Jaxon Smith-Njigba's one-handed grab during the Thanksgiving matchup vs. the 49ers.