With 2:34 left in the first quarter of the football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, Bradley Pinion of the Niners booted a beautiful-looking punt 61 yards downfield in what looked like a perfect kick to pin Russell Wilson and company deep in their own territory. Taking an Emerald City bounce, the ball eventually rolled and rolled and rolled before lightly kissing the pylon, resulting in a touchback to the Seattle 25.
It was a funny moment in a game of inches, the ball gently resting against the rectangular, orange divider between end zone and field, a divider that throughout its life has been the decision-maker between tears of heaven versus tears of hell.
Seattle already had a 14 to nil lead over their division rivals at the time of the kick, yet the sad punt proved to be a harbinger of futility for San Francisco and their sputtering offense, which was lambasted by the Seahawks’ defense in what turned into a convincing 18-37 victory.
There were a lot of questions beforehand, mainly concerning all-world ass-kicker Russell Wilson and his all-world ass-kicking right foot, specifically the high-ankle area which looked concerning during the week two loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
On the very first play of the game, Wilson threw an incompletion before finding Doug Baldwin for a 34-yard gain immediately afterward, looking like his old Super Bowl-winning self and putting some of the questions to rest. The very next play Christine Michael and his gold chain sped past the 49ers’ defense en route to his first career touchdown.
On San Francisco’s first possession, the league leaders in three-and-outs added to their sorrows with a couple of woeful Blaine Gabbert passes resulting in a punt by the aforementioned Pinion, which set up an impressive eight-minute drive by the home team.
Wilson started the drive with a two-yard pass to TE Luke Willson, who immediately followed his catch with a holding penalty. After a couple of plays that resulted in another penalty and some no-yard gains, Seattle faced a third and long. Doug Baldwin, who exploded for 164 receiving yards, then made the play of the game with a crazy outstretched catch to extend the drive, all right in front of Chip Kelly.
The catch seemed to ignite the offense, which put together a dizzying drive that resulted in another Christine Michael touchdown, giving him two more touchdowns in one quarter than he has ever had in his entire NFL life.
After more punting by both teams, Russell Wilson found himself on a 1st and 10 in the second quarter before throwing to TE Jimmy Graham, who made a catch in the middle of the field before coughing the ball up to LB Gerald Hodges of San Francisco. Following the fumble, Gabbert led a decent drive which put SF in range for a field goal, bringing the score to 14-3.
Down by only 11 at that point, the 49ers wouldn’t get any closer.
Wilson, on the next possession, faced a 3rd and 14 and bombed a 59-yard pass to his favorite target Doug Baldwin. Then on first down, Russ did that thing he does where he runs around for a little bit before finding someone downfield. The lucky recipient happened to be Graham, who caught an 18-yard touchdown pass that exorcised his ghosts from the previous fumble and put Seattle up 21-3, catapulting the crowd into a frenzy.
The Niners then missed a field goal which led to Seattle doing the exact opposite of that to close out the half with the Birds up 24-3 over the Prospectors.
Then in the third, with the game pretty much put away, Eli Harold got flagged for a horse collar tackle on Russell Wilson which apparently sprained his left knee. Wilson, ever the competitor, sat out one play before returning to the roar of the crowd and leading the home team to another field goal before leaving the game and letting the young guy, Trevone Boykin, finish the game, ending Wilson’s day.
The finished product was Seattle’s best game of the year, a 19-point victory that looked a lot closer than it should have. Kam Chancellor and his big hits (eight tackles) led the defense, while Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin, and Christine Michael all reached the century mark for yardage.
It was great to see Boykin get some time, eventually throwing a touchdown (to Baldwin, of course) even though he did throw an interception later, resulting in someone’s fantasy football team somewhere losing some points and taking an L for the week.
But the biggest question mark for the time being is Russell Wilson’s legs, which he uses so potently during those frenetic scrambles.
On a lighter note, Graham looked like he finally fit in with the offense, and if him, Baldwin, and Michael can continue to make big plays, look out NFC West.
The Seahawks travel to New York next week to play Ivy-Leaguer Ryan Fitzpatrick (coming off of six, yes six, interceptions on Sunday) and the Jets next week at 10AM PST.
Photos by Seahawks.com