The Seahawks still control the NFC West – and, for now, they lead the race for the NFC bye, too.
Russell Wilson threw four TD passes, DK Metcalf followed up Tyler Lockett’s career day with his own and Blitzing Bobby Wagner led Seattle’s defense to its best performance of the season (it was a low bar) as the Hawks beat the 49ers 37-27 to improve to 6-1 for the second time ever (the last time was in the Super Bowl title year of 2013).
With Green Bay losing to Minnesota, the Seahawks now control the NFC again. It was a nice bounce-back after the very avoidable overtime loss in Arizona last week.
The Hawks were down their top two running backs and three of their top five defensive backs, but that wasn’t really going to change anything because they are now a passing team and their defense wasn’t going to get much worse than it already was.
In fact, for three quarters, Wagner led Seattle to its best defensive performance of the season, albeit against an equally banged-up San Francisco squad. After the 49ers lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to an ankle injury, Nick Mullens rallied the 49ers to three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But, unlike the loss in Arizona last week, the Hawks did not give up the double-digit lead this time.
Led by the blitzing Wagner, the Hawks sacked Garoppolo three times and held the 49ers to 112 yards in the first three quarters. Mullens tallied 239 in the fourth in a comeback try that nearly got the 49ers within a score, down 30-20 after a failed two-point try.
Wilson’s four TD passes give him 26 this season, and Metcalf set career highs with 12 catches for 161 yards and two scores, a week after Lockett caught 15 for 200 yards and three TDs.
“What a fantastic game he played,” Pete Carroll said of Metcalf. “Just so tough and so physical and just a dominant player out there today.”
Wilson said Lockett and Metcalf are “arguably … the two best receivers in the game.”
Seattle’s offense looked slow and confused in the first two drives. But former 49er D.J. Reed kicked things into gear with an interception that set up Wilson and company for their first TD drive as they trailed 7-0. Reed had a big debut for Seattle, with the interception, two passes defensed, six tackles and a couple of big blitzes.
“I’m really not surprised that he played well,” Carroll said. “I’m thrilled that we got him.” Expect to see more of Reed, even when Ugo Amadi returns.
Nick Bellore, playing as the third-down back, got a big third-down conversion on the drive after Reed’s pick. And Brian Schottenheimer called good misdirection plays, with Wilson rolling out to throw to Tyler Lockett, David Moore getting to midfield on an end around and Metcalf finishing with a 46-yard TD, outrunning the entire 49ers secondary just like he chased down Budda Baker last week.
Metcalf then led the way on an 81-yard drive, gaining 52 yards and scoring on a short jump pass over the middle by Wilson. Metcalf finished the first half with six catches, 102 yards and both of his touchdowns.
The Seahawks gave up a season-low seven points in the first half.
Reed and Wagner started the third quarter right, combining to sack Garoppolo on a third-down blitz. Wagner had a monster game: 11 tackles, two sacks, four QB hits, three tackles for loss. He was fired up to beat the 49ers all game long.
Carroll said, “Bobby Wagner was just everywhere on the field.”
Wagner said the defenders “still have things to work on, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Wilson then led the Hawks on a 63-yard touchdown drive. DeeJay Dallas got a lot of action, including the touchdown on a 2-yard pass a play after the rookie failed to take a handoff from Wilson. Dallas still made his rookie mistakes, but he played well enough as the sub for Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer (who played sparingly with his hamstring injury).
“That’s a lot of burden for one kid and he did great today,” Carroll said of Dallas, who seemed to be smiling big after every play, clearly enjoying his time in the spotlight.
Dallas said, “It felt good. I feel like I belong here.”
The Hawks got the ball back on the kickoff, with Cody Barton causing a fumble and Bellore recovering at the 21. That set up a quick TD pass to David Moore by Wilson, who ducked pressure on third-and-goal and hit Moore at the goal line as the QB was falling. That put Seattle up 27-7.
The Hawks got a 48-yard field goal from Jason Myers to go ahead 30-7 after Reed’s blitz helped set up a third-down sack by Alton Robinson, which sent Garoppolo to the locker room with an ankle injury.
Mullens threatened to ruin the easy win by driving the 49ers to three fourth-quarter touchdowns. But Wilson interrupted the momentum by leading the Hawks to a 37-20 lead with 3:33 left.
With the Rams also losing to Miami, the Hawks (6-1) are up 1.5 games on L.A. (5-3) and 2.5 on San Francisco (4-4), with Arizona (5-2) the big threat at this point.
They take a break in the middle of their NFC West gantlet with a game in Buffalo next week. The Bills (6-2) just broke their seven-game losing streak against New England and will be a big challenge. But the Hawks also should have Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap, Damon Harrison and Rasheem Green for that one – a good tuneup for the Rams in Week 10 and Arizona again in Week 11.
“The thing I like best about the game is the defensive play,” Carroll said. “We’re getting there. We’re going to keep getting better. I know I keep telling you that, and it’s because it’s going to happen.”