Seahawks blow chance to clinch playoffs with OT loss to SF
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The stage was all set for a playoff-clinching party for the Seattle Seahawks with a game against a struggling rival they had dominated for five years running.
Then a missed extra point, botched kickoff coverage and a record-setting day of penalties combined to send the Seahawks home without a celebration following a 26-23 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday that snapped a 10-game winning streak in the rivalry.
“I just feel like everyone needs to wake up,” Seattle defensive lineman Frank Clark said. “I feel like I need to wake up, the rest of the team, the coaches, everyone needs to wake up. We want to finish this out strong, like we’ve been talking about. I feel like it has to be a joint effort. Everybody has to step up and be accountable.”
The day started off well for the Seahawks (8-6), who forced a three-and-out on the opening drive and then easily moved downfield to score on Russell Wilson’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin.
But any thought that things would go as easy for Seattle this week as it did two weeks ago in a 43-16 win at home over San Francisco (4-10) was put to rest when Sebastian Janikowski missed the extra point and Richie James Jr. returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
That put the Seahawks down 7-6 and they never led the rest of the way against a team playing out the string of another lost season.
Seattle managed to tie the game at 20 early in the fourth quarter when Chris Carson scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1, breaking a tackle from D.J. Jones in the backfield and then fighting through another from Elijah Lee to get the score for the highlight of his 119-yard rushing day.
The teams then traded field goals before the 49ers stepped up defensively with three straight stops against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to set the stage for Robbie Gould’s game-winning 36-yard field goal in overtime that handed Seattle its first loss against San Francisco since 2013.
Coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t believe his team overlooked the 49ers, even with a big showdown coming next week against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I don’t think any of that is what happened,” Carroll said. “I think we were sloppy with the penalties situation. All of the numbers match up to how we played. The running numbers, the third down numbers were the best we’ve had in quite a while.
“Defense kept the numbers down, played really well in the second half. So, we did a lot of good things like we normally do. Two of the last three weeks, we’ve had four penalties. So, we had 14 today for 148 yards, it’s really hard to overcome that and we weren’t able to in a close game.”
Seattle committed three personal fouls to help San Francisco get a field goal in the third quarter and then had holding calls on its final three drives of the game to thwart any momentum.
The 148 yards in penalties were the most in franchise history, with Shaquill Griffin called for pass interference against Dante Pettis that turned an incomplete pass on second-and-15 to a first down at the Seattle 41 in overtime.
“I think it looked different because of the refs,” Griffin said. “That’s just the honest answer. I feel like we haven’t had this many flags called against us since I’ve been here. It sucks that it happened, but I can’t blame it on them. We can’t put ourselves in that position. That’s completely on us.”
A 16-yard run by Jeff Wilson Jr. got the 49ers in field-goal range and then Gould delivered the game-winner three plays later.
The Seahawks remain in good position in the top wild-card spot in the NFC and can clinch the playoffs with either a win at home against Kansas City next week or last-place Arizona in the finale.
“There’s no panic mode,” said Wilson, who threw for 237 yards with two TDs to Baldwin. “Our heads are down and ready to work, and that was going to be our mentality either way. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pull through when we needed to. It’s a moment, and how do you use it is going to be the key.”