The Seahawks fell to 6-7 with Sunday’s loss to the 49ers in San Francisco, but remain tied for the NFC West lead heading into their final three games.
Only in the NFL West.
The Seahawks were slapped around by the San Francisco 49ers 40-21 on Sunday, but remain tied with the St. Louis Rams for first place in the division. The 49ers, meanwhile, are 5-8, but they’re only one game out of first place entering the final three games of the season.
One of these teams – the Seahawks, 49ers or Rams, who lost the Saints on Sunday – will win the West, and host a first-round playoff game.
“The football Gods still are looking out for us,” said Leon Washington, who had a 92-yard kickoff return for one the Seahawks’ touchdowns.
As coach Pete Carroll said after yet another disappointing game in the Bay Area, the only thing the Seahawks can do is go home and try to get right for next week – when the 11-2 Atlanta Falcons come to Qwest Field.
It hurt too much to look back at what could have been.
“We had a great opportunity today,” Carroll said. “We had a chance to separate. But today, we were not even close.”
What’s next? “We have to find a way to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way,” Washington said.
That was not the case Sunday, when the Seahawks suffered a lopsided loss in the Bay Area for the second time. They also were outplayed in a 33-3 decision to the Raiders in Oakland on Halloween.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, playing for the first time since sitting out five games with a sprained shoulder, passed for three touchdowns – to three different receivers. The Seahawks’ Matt Hasselbeck, on the other hand, threw four interceptions – to four different defenders.
“This one was pretty bad,” Hasselbeck said. “It was not a good day for us. It was not a good day for me.”
The Seahawks’ offense was playing with four hands tied behind its back, as leading receiver Mike Williams (sprained ankle) and starting flanker Ben Obomanu (lacerated hand) sat out. But Ruvell Martin (four catches for 73 yards and a TD) and Deon Butler (five for 68 and a TD) stepped up.
Butler, however, suffered a broken leg while making his TD catch late in the fourth quarter and remained in San Francisco when the team flew back to Seattle after the game.
“This was a disappointing day for us, in so many ways,” Carroll said. “We had high expectations coming into this game and it didn’t happen for us.”
What did happen was too many turnovers, and too many big plays by the 49ers. In addition to the four interceptions, Hasselbeck also lost a fumble when he was sacked. The 49ers parlayed those five turnovers into 20 points. The Seahawks also lost the ball on downs twice, after reaching the 49ers’ 32- and 33-yard line.
“We turned the ball over so many times we didn’t give ourselves a chance,” Carroll said.
They didn’t help themselves on defense, either. Two of Smith’s TD passes went for 42 yards to tight end Vernon Davis and 62 yards to running back Brian Westbrook. They also gave a 46-yard reception to wide receiver Josh Morgan.
Carroll said the slippery footing at Candlestick Park played into the Seahawks missing tackles they normally make. But cornerback Marcus Trufant didn’t make the same point when given the chance.
“I don’t know if there’s anything behind that,” he said. “What we need to do is play better and tackle better.”
And it needs to start immediately, as the Seahawks plays the Falcons, Buccaneers and Rams in their final three games.
“We have to go back and regroup and put together a plan and mindset for next week,” Carroll said. “That’s all we’ve got right now – the next game.”