SAN FRANCISCO – In a clash of similar, bruising styles, the Seattle Seahawks were soundly defeated at their own game Thursday night.
Behind a physical running attack and a stingy defense, the San Francisco 49ers showed that they are not ready to relinquish their title as the heavyweights of the NFC West, pounding the Seahawks, 13-6, at Candlestick Park.
Seattle allowed a season-high 175 rushing yards on a variety of traps, leads and toss plays, as the Niners kept Seattle’s defense off-balance most of the evening.
Heading into the game, the Sea-hawks were the No. 2-ranked rushing defense in the league, allowing just 70 yards a contest.
Seattle hadn’t allowed as many rushing yards since – wait for it – the last time the Seahawks played the Niners, giving up 178 yards at CenturyLink Field in a 19-17 setback last December.
Seattle held San Francisco to 58 rushing yards in the first half. But the Seahawks let the floodgates open in the second half, giving up 117 yards.
San Francisco entered the game as the top rushing team in the league, averaging 176.8 yards rushing a contest.
“It was disappointing because we didn’t stop the run like we wanted to,” said Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill, who finished with a team-high nine tackles. “But there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Holding them to 13 points is nothing to be embarrassed about.”
San Francisco continued its dominance over the Seahawks, defeating Seattle for the fourth consecutive time, and fifth time in seven meetings.
The Seahawks haven’t won in San Francisco since 2008.
Niners running back Frank Gore finished with 131 yards on 16 carries, including three explosive runs of 18 yards or more, a week after being held to 36 yards in a 26-3 humbling to the New York Giants.
Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch also proved effective running the ball against San Francisco’s stout front, totaling 103 yards on 19 carries.
But rookie quarterback Russell Wilson could not overcome at least five key drops by his receivers, including three on third down that would have went for long gains.
“It was crucial,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Because the game was so close, it was those plays that could have made the difference.”
Wilson did not have a good day, throwing for 122 yards on 9-of-23 accuracy with an interception.
His counterpart, Alex Smith, wasn’t much better, finishing 14-for-23 passing for 140 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
With the win, San Francisco sits alone atop the NFC West at 5-2, while Seattle drops to 4-3 on the year.
The Seahawks are 0-3 in the division, and 1-3 on the road this season.
The teams traded field goals in the first quarter. After Seattle’s defense stopped San Francisco on the opening drive, the Seahawks marched 62 yards on 10 plays from their own 4, with Steven Hauschka drilling a 52-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
But on San Francisco’s next drive, the Niners drove 60 yards on 11 plays, tying the game at 3 with a 38-yard field goal from David Akers.
Hauschka made another field goal from 35 yards in the second quarter to give Seattle a 6-3 lead, but he missed from 51 yards later in the first half.
San Francisco took its first lead of the game on a 10-play, 86-yard drive midway through the third quarter that ended with Smith finding tight end Delanie Walker on a shallow crossing route for a 12-yard score, putting the Niners on top for good, 10-6, with 4 minutes, 29 seconds left in the quarter.
The Niners got the ball back again and appeared in position to put the game away, but on third and goal from the 7, Smith broke outside the pocket and tried to stick a throw to Randy Moss in the back of the end zone, but Brandon Browner jumped in front for the touchdown-saving interception.
Seattle took over at the 3, but couldn’t manage to get a first down and had to punt.
After Ted Ginn Jr.’s 16-yard punt return put San Francisco at Seattle’s 49, the Niners drove deep into Seattle territory once again for their final points of the game, an Akers 28-yard field goal.
Seattle crossed midfield once in the second half, finishing with 74 yards in the third and fourth quarters.
The Seahawks will now get three days off to lick their wounds before returning to practice to get ready for another tough road test at Detroit on Oct. 28, the last of a five-game stretch with Seattle has played four on the road.
“We had a short week, then with the travel, but it’s no excuse,” Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. “We still should have come out and played better than we did.
“I think we played pretty well, but we didn’t play good enough to win this game.”Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 email@example.com @eric_d_williams blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks