For the second straight week, the Seahawks needed overtime to get a victory. Jason Myers converted a 42-yard kick on the final play of overtime to give Seattle a 27-24 victory over the San Francisco 49ers that thrust the Seahawks right back into the mix in the NFC West.
Like many games before in the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks came out of the gates slowly and fell behind 10-0. The 49ers completely dominated the first 25 minutes of the game as it appeared the San Francisco could be headed toward a blowout. But the maligned Seattle defense posted its best performance of the season, forcing three turnovers and sacking Jimmy Garoppolo five times while holding the 49ers rushing attack to just 87 yards overall.
It was a game fitting of the peak Seahawks-49ers rivalry games from earlier in the decade. A hard, physical game with several players from both teams going down with injuries throughout the night with playoff implications all over the place.
The loss is the first of the season for the 49ers and pulls Seattle within a game of the division lead in the NFC West. It also grants the Seahawks tiebreaker priority over the 49ers for the time being with a Week 17 meeting in Seattle still left between the two teams. The Seahawks will now get their bye week at a seemingly fantastic time to recover for the final seven-week sprint to the playoffs with one of the hardest schedules in the league over that stretch.
Here are the takeaways from a wild game in Santa Clara on Monday night:
-- Seahawks defensive line - led by Jadeveon Clowney - had its biggest performance of the season.
A unit that had struggled to consistently produce results for pretty much all of the 2019 season so far was able to engineer its best performance of the season against the 49ers.
Jadeveon Clowney led the way for a group that finally saw themselves able to harass an opposing quarterback. The defense sacked Garoppolo five times and delivered 10 quarterback hits on the night. Two of the sacks turned into fumbles recovered by the Seahawks for key turnovers that set up touchdowns for Seattle. Clowney returned one fumble for a touchdown to break the 49ers first half momentum and Poona Ford's fumble recovery in the third quarter led to a 1-yard Chris Carson touchdown run that gave Seattle a 21-10 lead.
"Jadeveon Clowney was fantastic tonight," head coach Pete Carroll said. "Just when he was close he was causing problems and he scored again. So, I really loved what the defense did during this night and it’s important to us, really important to us the way we played."
Clowney had five tackles, five quarterback hits, 10 pressure, a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and touchdown on a monster night.
"We have to keep feeding off each other up front and keep getting pressure on the quarterback. That’s going to help us win games throughout the rest of the season," Clowney said.
Jarran Reed's first sack of the season forced Garoppolo's first fumble that Clowney picked up for a 10-yard touchdown. Clowney then stripped Garoppolo that Ford recovered. Tre Flowers and Al Woods each sacked Garoppolo as well with Reed and Ford splitting a fifth sack. It was only the second time this season that Seattle had five sacks in a game along with the season opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Their defense was considered the best defense and we wanted to try to show otherwise,'' linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
The front also helped limit the 49ers to just 87 rushing yards on 27 carries, an average of just 3.2 yards per carry.
"That’s a big night by guys up front," Carroll said.
The lack of a pass rush has been the biggest bugaboo for the Seahawks defense all season. You wouldn't have known that if you only had Monday night's win to form an opinion around. Seattle's defense looked like a formidable unit and it all started up front.
-- Fumbles, fumbles, fumbles
This is not the type of football Pete Carroll wants to see.
The Seahawks fumbled the football five times on Monday night with three resulting in turnovers (though two came on the same play with the same turnover attached). Add in Russell Wilson's interception in overtime and the Seahawks turned the ball over four times against the 49ers and still found a way to win.
"We did a terrible job taking care of the football tonight, a miserable job," Carroll said. "I don’t even recognize us when the ball is flopping around like that. We got a lot of work to do. We won’t win if we keep doing this. We have to take care of the football better than that. It was a miserable night there."
It's the first time in Carroll's tenure as head coach that Seattle has given the ball away four times in a regular season game and still managed to win. They did give the ball away five times in the 2014 NFC Championship victory over the Green Bay Packers, however. The last time it happened in the regular season was a 2006 victory over Green Bay, 34-24, at home.
DK Metcalf had the ball ripped free of his grasp at the 2-yard line by safety Jaquiski Tartt when Seattle could have taken the lead right before halftime. Carson and Penny both lost control of the football with Penny losing his to the 49ers. Russell Wilson was sacked as well with the ball slipping from his grasp. That loose ball was grabbed by right tackle Germain Ifedi, who was subsequently stripped by Fred Warner and the ball was scooped by DeForest Bucker for a vital touchdown that got the 49ers back into the contest.
"What was he thinking?" Carroll said. "He thinks he’s going to score. What was he thinking? I think he was doing this thing, the Heisman and all that, I don’t know what he was, that was terrible."
Seattle's 11 lost fumbles this season is second-most in the NFL behind only the New York Giants and their 14 lost fumbles, nine of which have come from rookie quarterback Daniel Jones.
Whether Carroll will force his players to follow the lead of Darnell Jefferson from "The Program" throughout their bye week remains unclear, but the amount of fumbles by the Seahawks will not sit well with a coach who preaches "it's all about the ball."
-- Quandre Diggs, Josh Gordon produce in Seahawks' debuts
Diggs got the start at free safety for Seattle in his first game action for the Seahawks following his trade from the Detroit Lions last month.
Diggs intercepted Garoppolo on a deflected pass intended for Kendrick Bourne that was returned 44 yards to the 49ers' 16-yard line. Three plays later, Wilson hit tight end Jacob Hollister for a 3-yard touchdown that gave the Seahawks the lead. Diggs also delivered a few large hits that helped dislodge passes from their intended targets.
"Quandre did excellent," Carroll said. "He had a great hit on a toss that went to their sidelines, fantastic pick, it was great to see him out there. He really has played a lot of football, you can tell. He’s savvy, that helps us."
Carroll chose to start Diggs over rookie Marquise Blair because of the experience he brings to the table. He felt it showed on Monday night how valuable that experience could be.
"That’s why we traded for him," he said. We thought that he might be able to give us something with more experience than we had back there. It has felt like, just we’re letting some things get away from us, just because we’re just so inexperienced.
"He did exactly what we hoped he would do tonight. He covered some really nice hits and he’s a good ball player."
Gordon didn't play nearly as much as Diggs did in his debut outing but he came up with a pair of critical third down receptions in the latter stages of the game. A 13-yard reception on third-and-6 in the fourth quarter set up a 46-yard Myers field goal to take the lead, 24-21, with 1:49 left to play. Then in overtime, Gordon caught a 14-yard pass on third-and-3 on the opening drive of the extra period.
"Josh had two fine catches," Carroll said. "It was the low ball catch on the third down that was incredible. That was a really good catch. You know, he didn’t get to do as much as he was hoping for, but he’ll be able to help us. He’s a great kid."
-- Tyler Lockett injury worth monitoring closely.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett was taken to the hospital for evaluation after sustaining a “really bad” lower leg contusion in the latter stages of Monday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Lockett did not return home with the team Monday night and remained in the Bay Area for further evaluation, per the team.
“He’s out of here right now to get looked at,” head coach Pete Carroll said afterward. “It will be OK but it’s a pretty severe situation for right now."
Lockett was unable to play in overtime due to the swelling issue. He fielded the kickoff on the final play of regulation and took a knee to send the game to the extra quarter. He did not return to the field for the overtime session, leaving Seattle without their top receiver and top tight end as Luke Willson was also out due to a hamstring injury.
“I think there was a lot of swelling," Carroll said. "The contusion caused a lot of swelling right away and they’ve got stuff… there [are] concerns about that so they’ve got to make sure… There’s a compartment element in this so they’ve got to make sure and just got to take care of him. And we’re ahead of it so we should be in good shape.”
The “compartment element” Carroll was referring to is likely compartment syndrome, which is a severe swelling of a muscle that could lead to cut off blood flow and effect nerve and muscle cells. It can become a real significant issue if not addressed in a timely manner.
Lockett was held to just three catches for 26 yards on the night against the 49ers. But his absence meant that Gordon, DK Metcalf, Malik Turner, David Moore and Jacob Hollister were the only available receiving options in overtime.
“You could tell not having [Lockett] out there, we looked different,” Carroll said. “We need him back.”
The bye week presents an extra week of time for Lockett to get back to full strength and Carroll indicated he didn't think the matter would keep him out following the bye. Carroll may have a clearer understanding of Lockett's status Tuesday afternoon when he speaks with reporters prior to the few days away.
Photo Credit: SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Kicker Jason Myers #5 of the Seattle Seahawks is carried off the field after making the winning 42 yard field goal in overtime to win 27-24 over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)