Olindo Mare gets a hug after game-winning FG (AP)
Seattle has struggled all season to be a consistent ball club, but on Sunday in front of a sold out Qwest Field, the Seahawks got consistently stingy defense and solid special teams while coming away with a nail-biting 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers who were playing for their playoff lives.
Olindo Mare hit the game-winning 30 yard field goal as time expired to give the Seahawks the win, but this was a defensive game that saw both offenses struggle, going a combined 5 for 29 on third down conversions.
While the game ended up being a duel of two stingy defenses, the contest started off with a bang as San Francisco QB Alex Smith hit TE Vernon Davis for a 33-yard touchdown on their third possession of the game, giving the 49ers a 7-0 lead.
Seattle had the answer though as they took advantage of a fumbled hand-off exchange on a punt return and that was recovered by rookie DE Nick Reed at the San Francisco 13 and three plays later QB Matt Hasselbeck hit WR Deion Branch for a seven-yard touchdown, knotting the score at seven apiece.
On Seattle's next drive, Hasselbeck found RB Justin Forsett on a perfectly executed screen pass and the second-year back scampered in from eight yards out to give the Seahawks a 14-7 lead, but San Francisco came right back down and on the fourth play of a 77-yard drive, Smtih found WR Josh Morgan from 22 yards out to tie the score again at 14.
Smith was solid most of the day, at least from a statistical standpoint, completing 27 of 45 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his ineffectiveness on third down that really hurt the 49ers.
"In every situation, we just found a way to screw it up," 49ers coach Mike Singletary told the media following the game. "Teams that talk about going to the playoffs can't do that."
After the teams exchanged field goals late in the game, Seattle had the ball on their own 48 with :21 seconds left on the clock. On their second play, Hasselbeck found rookie WR Deon Butler streaking down the sidelines and hit him for a 32 yard gain.
Two plays later, Mare came on for his late-game heroics.
Hasselbeck was very efficient on the afternoon, completing 25 of 34 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns while Julius Jones ground out a tough 67 yards on 20 carries.
S Jordan Babineaux led Seattle with nine tackles and forced a key fumble late in the game while CB Marcus Trufant had seven stops and S Deon Grant and LB David Hawthorne each had five.
LB Patrick Willis was a monster on the defensive side of the ball for San Francisco, posting 16 tackles and LB Takeo Spikes chipped in nine while DE Manny Lawson had seven more.
Also notable was that TE Vernon Davis had six receptions for 111 yards and the first touchdown of the game, but RB Frank Gore who gashed Seattle for 207 yards in the teams' first meeting this year only carried the ball nine times for 25 yards on the afternoon.
Seattle, now 5-7, will head to Houston to take on the 5-7 Texans at Reliant Stadium next Sunday.