I’ve been going to Seahawks games for a long time now, since the year before the Kingdome came down. And let me just say, this was one of the biggest games ever for this franchise. The feeling of electricity, the way the fans were jacked from a big Saturday of UW and WSU wins and the Storm in the finals, and the way the San Francisco 49ers marched onto the field in a military style formation like they were an invading army taking over the place, this was huge.
It’s been louder at Qwest Field, but only a couple of times. This crowd of 12th men and women refused to get quiet when Matt Hasselbeck’s first pass, the Seahawks’ first play of the 2010 season, was picked off. When Mike Singletary decided to go for it on 4th and 1 three times in field goal range, the volume went up a couple more decibels and forced Alex Smith to take a timeout just to be able to hear the play call.
I looked up at the clock at one point midway through the second quarter. It said 6:38 left to play in the half. Seattle had run five plays for 11 yards total on offense. San Francisco had dominated the time of possession but only had about 100 yards total offense and 6 points to show for it. Sure, the refs had tried to give them more on a completely bogus and eventually overturned touchdown call when the receiver came down out of bounds. But for all the swagger and cockiness the 49ers walked into Qwest Field with, the Seahawks were standing toe to toe with them and not backing down from the bullies.
The tide turned right after that. Interceptions by Marcus Trufant, for a touchdown, and Jordan Babineaux that set up a touchdown scamper by Hasselbeck had Seattle leading 14-6. Seattle got two more touchdowns for a total of four in a seven-minute explosion.
Play of the Game: There’s so many to choose, from Marcus Trufant’s interception return for a touchdown to Deon Butler’s touchdown catch. But because of his first pass, I’m giving the honor to Matt Hasselbeck’s touchdown run.
1. Victory – Just a beautiful, full team effort that felt so good. The game started badly for the offense, but the defense stood tall and refused to allow San Francisco anything on the ground or the air.
2. Defense – The 49ers ended up with more yardage than the Seahawks. But then, the Seahawks did give them a head start. The run defense was excellent, anchored by Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane in the middle. Frank Gore, who is used to 200-yard games against Seattle, got 38 yards on 17 carries. Alex Smith, who showed that he hasn’t gotten any better – and maybe it’s time to stop blaming the coaching carousel – threw 26 completions out of 45 attempts for 225 yards. Most of those were for short yardage. Seattle sacked him twice, which is remarkable since he was in the shotgun for most of the game, and pounded him every chance they got. The defense held San Francisco on third down, allowing only 1 out 15 attempts.
3. The Fans – Seriously, can you hear me now? My head is still ringing, my voice sounds horrendous, and my sinuses are shot, but every last fiber of it was worth it. The 12th man was out in full force yesterday, as there was no way we as a group were allowing the 49ers to come in here all cocky and bragging, to walk in and just get a win because of what the talking heads were saying. Yes, they may be the better team in the end, and that is seriously debatable now. But this is still Qwest Field, where the rookie linemen go to false start, the quarterbacks take timeouts to hear the play call, and the visiting teams get mercilessly booed. It’s our house and you are not welcome here.
1. Slow start – Oh man, was it rough at the beginning. The first play was an interception? Five total plays for a total of 11 yards halfway through the second quarter? That is a huge recipe for disaster. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the problem was, but I feel it may have been that the offense was too hyped up and needed to settle down a bit. All things considered, it turned out okay in the end, but I really do not want to have that happen again.
2. Referees – I really try not to complain about the refs, but the linesmen in Seattle yesterday were awful, as they consistently marked bad spots. And the phantom touchdown when Josh Morgan was completely out of bounds before he touched the ground. Maybe you didn’t realize this, but there is no force out rule anymore, and Marcus Trufant made sure he was out. The fact Seattle had to challenge such a horrible call in the first place made me wonder if the linesman on that side was new.
While I’m on the subject, every one of the defensive offside calls that were made were wrong too. I have never seen so many false starts not called or blamed on the defense. The 49er left tackle was consistently at least a second ahead of the snap count and never got flagged for it.
3. Vernon Davis – Yes, he caught the most passes for his team but dude, seriously. When 180-pound Kelly Jennings can bring you down on his own in the open field, you are not a bad ass no matter how much you say it.
1. The first play – Yes, I have mentioned it before, but it was just ugly. I don’t know what Hasselbeck was seeing but from my angle, 49er corner Nate Clements was the only person that was in the spot the ball was thrown.
2. Alex Smith – When Kurt Warner retired, he must have bequeathed his dancing feet and aversion to getting hit to Smith because the more the Seahawks pounded him, the higher Smith’s passes got. Smith consistently missed receivers, threw to the wrong shoulder, or to areas where no receiver was.
3. Frank Gore – Hey Frank, remember running for 200 yards against the Seahawks? Yeah, not anymore. This Seahawks defense can actually tackle, led by rookie safety Earl Thomas, and only once did Gore look dangerous.
4. Stupid 49er fan – Yeah, you, the one telling me to count the rings. Um, have you looked at the scoreboard? What’s the date on those rings anyway?
An even bigger test now awaits the Seahawks when they travel to Denver, home of many heartbreaking losses at the hands of John Elway and the hated Broncos. A big win tends to inflate expectations both in the team and the fans. I am much more cautiously optimistic about the Seahawks than most, but this will be where we see what this team is really made of.