A recap of the Seahawks’ 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Olindo Mare. The kicker? That’s the kicker. Mare won the game with a 30-yard field goal as time expired and earlier in the fourth quarter kicked a 25-yarder that ran his streak to 17 in a row to break the franchise record.
The less-obvious footnote was that the kicks came at the north end of the stadium, where the wind swirls and he missed his only two attempts this season – in a six-point loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 3, which was followed by some rather harsh words from coach Jim Mora.
“I think it has very little to do with my very direct and probably overbearing criticism on that day,” Mora said. “I think it’s just a testament to the type of professional that Olindo is. Whether I said anything to him or not, he has a lot of pride in his performance and he takes it very seriously. That’s one of the reasons he’s had so much success in this league.
“We’re reaping the benefits of that now.”
The game-winner was the 13th of Mare’s career.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Mare would not have been close enough to drill his game-winner if Matt Hasselbeck had not dropped a perfect pass to rookie Deon Butler along the sideline for a 32-yard gain that put the ball at the 49ers’ 15-yard line. The excruciating twist for the 49ers was that Butler had the “alert” route on the play. That means, as Hasselbeck explained it, “Hey listen, you’ll probably never get this ball, but be alter.”
Butler was, and he did – get the ball.
“It’s no surprise, I’m a Matt Hasselbeck fan,” Mora said. “I think that he excels in crunch time. I think he shows his toughness every time he does out there.”
Defense: So many from which to chose, but one involved two players and came after the 49ers had driven to the Seahawks’ 26-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. As Frank Gore was twisted and pushing for extra yards at the end of a 4-yard run, free safety Jordan Babineaux forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Josh Wilson and returned 43 yards to the 49ers’ 41.
“You know who made the really good play on that was Jordan, knocking it out,” Mora said when asked about Wilson. “But you can’t deny that again Josh was in the right spot.”
Wilson picked off a pass that was tipped by fellow cornerback Kelly Jennings in last week’s win at St. Louis and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Wilson thought he was going to score on the fumble return, as well. Unlike he ran into Alex Smith, the 49ers’ QB.
“We’ll get that on film,” Babineaux said with a grin. “We’ll certainly talk about that.”
Offered Wilson, “Alex Smith technically didn’t tackle me. I ran through him and somebody got me from behind.” Wilson then laughed and added, “I’m probably going to get some laughs about that one.”
Special teams: Mare’s fourth-quarter two-fer. One kick set a franchise record for consecutive field goals, the other won the game.
“Well, I’ll tell you what, it definitely feels good to win,” he said. “We’re on a two-game winning streak. I think that’s probably a good record to have right now.”
There was a moment of silence prior to kickoff for the four police officers that were slain in Pierce County last week, and Mora wore a Lakewood Police hat on the sideline during the game.
“I just felt it was the right thing to do, to bring attention to those people that every day, uncelebrated … they go out there and unselfishly lay it on the line for all of us,” Mora said. “I think it’s important that we recognize that.”
After splitting a sack with Babineaux in the third quarter, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane went into a celebratory dance that looked like a vertical worm.
“I kind of got that dance from (former teammates) Chuck Darby and Rocky Bernard,” Mebane said. “They told me I had to come up with some kind of dance everything I make a big play. I didn’t know what to do at the time, so I came out and just started doing something.”
Hasselbeck was late for his new conference because he was getting iced down? Or was that de-iced, considering that the wind-chill temperate at kickoff was 30 degrees?
“No, I was getting iced,” said Hasselbeck, who took a knee to the back in the on a third-quarter sack.
The Seahawks played without defensive lineman Cory Redding (concussion) and linebacker D.D. Lewis (sprained knee). But Mora reported no new injuries after the game.
“We came out of the game relatively healthy, just your typical bumps and bruises,” he said. “Nothing that looks like it will keep anyone out.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“That’s absolutely what we’re still playing for. The way to do it, though, is one game at a time, one practice at a time, one play at a time. Just keep doing all the things we said before the season started is so important. It would be easy to look at all the mistakes we’ve made, and look at the mountain we have to climb to accomplish it, and get discouraged. So I think we have to stay focused. If it happens, it happens. We can control a good part of it.” – Hasselbeck, responding to a question about the team’s ability to finish with a winning record and possibly make the playoffs
Peephole perspective: Oh, Mare. Veteran K Olindo Mare hit a 30-yard field goal as time expired. Seahawks 20, 49ers 17.
Player of the quarter: Mare, of course. He broke the club record with his 17th consecutive field goal to give the Seahawks a lead, then kicked No. 18 to give them the win.
Play of the quarter: With 18 seconds left, Matt Hasselbeck laid a beautiful pass to rookie WR Deon Butler along the right sideline. Butler got behind CB Keith Smith to make the catch and get Mare close enough for his game-winner – the 13th of his career.
Line of the quarter: 2-2. That was Mare on his field goal attempts, and he was kicking toward the north end zone – where he missed his only two attempts of the season in the Week 2 loss to the Bears.
The bigger picture: The 49ers made up for the offensive drought in the third quarter by driving from their own 2 to the Seahawks’ 26. That’s when FS Jordan Babineaux forced Gore to fumble. CB Josh Wilson scooped up the ball and returned it to the 49ers’ 41.
Mare finally broke the stalemate – and took advantage of Babineaux’s big play – by kicking a 25-yard field goal, his club-record 17th in a row. The three-pointer capped a seven-play, 34-yard drive. Matt Hasselbeck and Justin Forsett hooked up on a 15-yard pass play to highlight the possession.
Again, the lead didn’t last long, as the 49ers took the ensuing kickoff and moved 68 yards to a game-tying 34-yard field goal by Joe Nedney. Alex Smith had an 18-yard completion to WR Brandon Jones, but the biggest play was a 28-yard pass interference penalty – on a very late flag – against CB Marcus Trufant. He got tangled with rookie WR Michael Crabtree on the play.
The Seahawks took the kickoff that followed Nedney’s field goal and drove to the 49ers40-yard line. But Julius Jones was stopped for a 5-yard loss by LB Patrick Willis on first down, another pass to Jones gained 1 yard, C Chris Spencer was penalized for a false start and WR Deion Branch could not hold Hasselbeck’s third-down pass.
But the Seahawks got the ball back with 21 seconds left. Hasselbeck hit Butler. Mare hit his 30-yarder. The Seahawks have won back-to-back games for the first time since last December.
Peephole perspective: 14-14. No points, but a lot of defense, as six of the seven full series in the quarter resulted in three-and-outs.
Player of the quarter: Brandon Mebane. The DT from Cal sparked the Seahawks’ defensive effort with three tackles, including half a sack and another tackle for a loss.
Play of the quarter: On third-and-11, Matt Hasselbeck stepped up and lofted a pass toward Nate Burleson, who had the catch for a 23-yard gain and the Seahawks’ only first down of the quarter.
Line of the quarter: 1-1. That would be one first down for each team, as the Seahawks had 45 yards on 12 plays and the 49ers 36 on 14 plays.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks defense came up with an impressive effort on the 49ers’ second possession. Following a false start penalty on LT Barry Sims – the league-leading 91st at Qwest since the start of the 2005 season – DT Brandon Mebane led a smothering assault on Frank Gore for a 1-yard loss. Then, it was Mebane again, with an assist from FS Lawyer Milloy, on a 1-yard run by Gore. Third down, it was Gore again, up the gut again. This time he got 4 yards before running into MLB David Hawthorne and SS Deon Grant.
The Seahawk got a scare when Hasselbeck took a knee to the back at the end of a scramble that was ruled a sack, but he was able to return.
Peephole perspective: 14-14. Matt Hasselbeck and Justin Forsett teamed up on a screen pass for an 8-yard TD. The 49ers answered on Alex Smith’s 22-yard TD pass to WR Josh Morgan.
Player of the quarter: Hasselbeck. He ran (twice for 25 yards). He threw (completing seven passes in a row on the drive to the go-ahead TD pass to Forsett). He was 9 of 11 for 77 yards and the TD for a 126.1 passer rating.
Play of the quarter: Faced with a third-and-goal from the 8, and facing an aggressive 49ers defense that was bring pressure on almost every down, the Seahawks went with the perfect play – and executed it to perfection. Hasselbeck got the ball to Forsett on a screen pass to the right side, and the second-year back got into the end zone for the score that gave the Seahawks a brief 14-7 lead.
Line of the quarter: 10:38/4:22. That was the time of possession, and the Seahawks held the large advantage. Honorable mention to: 4-1-5, which was the tackle line for 49ers MLB Patrick Willis – solo stops, assists and total tackles.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks started the quarter the way they ended the first – on the move. A 12-play, 87-yard drive that consumed almost six minutes was capped by the 8-yard screen pass from Hasselbeck to Forsett. Hasselbeck was 7 of 7 for 72 yards, including a 15-yarder to WR Nate Burleson and a 25-yarder to FB Justin Griffith.
But the Seahawks’ lead didn’t last even 2½ minutes, as Smith passed 22 yards to Morgan for the tying TD. Morgan got behind CB Marcus Trufant to take Smith’s pass in the right side of the end zone. The big play on the quick drive was Smith’s 42-yard completion to TE Vernon Davis, who slipped past MLB David Hawthorne while running up the middle of the field. Smith was 4 of 4 for all 77 yards on the drive.
The Seahawks had another opportunity, as Hasselbeck scrambled for 23 yards into 49ers territory. But SS Michael Lewis blitzed on third-and-6 from the 49ers 32 to sack Hasselbeck and force a fumble that was recovered by Seahawks OG Rob Sims.
Peephole perspective: 7-7. A TD pass from Alex Smith to TE Vernon Davis. A TD pass from Matt Hasselbeck to WR Deion Branch.
Player of the quarter: Smith. The 49ers QB put the ball up 17 times in the first 15 minutes, completing nine for 106 yards and the TD.
Play of the quarter: The 49ers tried a reverse on a punt return, but fumbled the handoff from Arnaz Battle to Brandon Jones. Rookie DE Nick Reed recovered, giving the Seahawks the ball at the 49ers 13 to set up Hasselbeck’s 7-yard TD pass to Branch – which came on third-and-4.
Line of the quarter: 117-16. That’s total yards in the quarter, and the 117 belonged to the 49ers.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks got the ball first, but did nothing with it. But that three-and-out better than what happened on the Seahawks’ next possession – a fumble-forcing sack, as LB Manny Lawson beat FB Justin Griffith to get to QB Matt Hasselbeck and then recovered the ball at the Seattle 20-yard line.
But the 49ers didn’t cash in, as TE Delanie Walker couldn’t handle Alex Smith’s throw into the end zone on fourth-and-1. LB Leroy Hill was all over Walker on the route, while FS Lawyer Milloy was in Smith’s face as he threw.
The 49ers, however, came right back after another three-and-out by the Seahawks. They went for it again on fourth-and-1, but this time Smith rolled to his right and threw back to the left to TE Vernon Davis, who took the pass and ran up the sideline for the score with 6:16 left. It was Davis’ 10th TD catch of the season, setting a club record for tight ends.
The Seahawks came right back to tie it at 7-7, as Hasselbeck passed to Deion Branch for a 7-yard TD with 3:48 to play. The score was set up when the 49ers lost a punt return as Arnaz Battle tried to handoff to Brandon Jones. Rookie Nick Reed recovered the fumble.
The Seahawks want to run the ball against the 49ers, and they’ll have all feet on deck for this one. Leading rusher Julius Jones is active after missing the past 2 1/2 games with a bruised lung and will start. Justin Forsett, who had two 100-yard rushing performances in Jones’ absence, also is active – despite straining a quad in practice on Friday.
Also inactive for the Seahawks:
LB D.D. Lewis
OG Mike Gibson
OG Mansfield Wrotto
TE Cameron Morrah
DL Cory Redding
DT Red Bryant
DT Derek Walker
3rd QB: Mike Teel
Inactive for the 49ers
CB Nate Clements
CB Marcus Hudson
LB Diryral Briggs
C Cody Wallace
OT Joe Staley
WR Isaac Bruce
DT Kentwan Balmer
3rd QB: Nate Davis
The Seahawks also will be looking to avenge a 23-10 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco in Week 2. But the teams that will square off today are not the same teams that played at Candlestick Park in September.
The Seahawks lost QB Matt Hasselbeck (fractured rib), middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (strained hamstring) left tackle Sean Locklear (high ankle sprain) and cornerback Josh Wilson (high ankle sprain) during that game, and already were playing without linebacker Leroy Hill (pulled groin), center Chris Spencer (strained quad) and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (strained calf).
All but Tatupu are back, but which Seahawks running game will show up against the 49ers’ fifth-ranked run defense? Hasselbeck says the Seahawks are committed to running the ball today, with leading rusher Julius Jones back for the first time since bruising a lung in the Week 10 loss to the Cardinals and Justin Forsett listed as questionable – but expected to play – after straining a quad in practice on Friday. Forsett has run for 100-plus yards twice in Jones’ absence, but also was held to 9 in the Seahawks’ franchise-low 4-yard performance against the Vikings two weeks ago.
The 49ers now have former first-round draft choice Alex Smith at quarterback and Michael Crabtree, this year’s first-round draft choice, available to catch his passes. Neither played in the first Seattle game, and their presence has coach Mike Singletary going with more spread and shotgun formations, while still trying to keep Frank Gore involved.
Gore? You might remember him. Ran for 207 yards against the Seahawks in September, including TD runs of 80 and 79 yards. Yeah, that Frank Gore.
The Seahawks also are taking the field for first time since Tim Ruskell resigned as president and GM on Thursday. Many of the players – especially those Ruskell brought to the team – say they are to blame for not winning enough games, which is the reason Ruskell was not going to be offered a new contract when his expired after the season. Forty seven of the 53 players on current roster have joined the team since Ruskell was hired in 2005, including 19 this year.
The 49ers (5-6) are two games behind the division-leading Arizona Cardinals (7-4), a team they host next week on “Monday Night Football.” And, the Cardinals play the Vikings (10-1) today. So, you do the math. The 49ers definitely have something to play for not only today, but next week.
We’ll be back later with the inactives.