Seattle Seahawks: penalties caused Sunday’s loss

The Seattle Seahawks lost to rival San Francisco 19-17 on Sunday, falling to 11-2 but still very much in control of the NFC playoff picture.

The end result was more important to the 49ers, who are trying to fend off Arizona, Philadelphia, and Dallas for the final wild card position. The win was also an opportunity to delay Seattle clinching the NFC West, but that’s all it was: a delay for Seattle.

This loss isn’t going to lead to the wheels falling off the bus for the Seahawks. Seattle didn’t play  badly. It was a very well-played game for both defenses, and if not for some drive-killing penalties on Seattle and some non-calls on the 49ers’ offense, Seattle probably would’ve won. Still, the game-at-a-time mentality will still remain intact, and the Seahawks will get back to clinching the division next Sunday on the road against the Giants.

Everyone’s talking about Frank Gore’s late 51-yard run to set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning field goal as the most important moment. Yes, it was a crucial moment, but the Seahawks shot themselves in the foot so many times with penalties that Gore’s late run was even more significant. I’ll tell you, if you take away Golden Tate’s offensive pass interference, Michael Robinson’s holding, and the numerous defensive holding penalties on third downs that kept 49er drives alive, Seattle’s certainly up by more than a point when Gore hits that hole.

The non-calls that went San Francisco’s way, like one of the offensive lineman’s holding on Michael Bennett on a third down conversion that eventually led to Vernon Davis’s touchdown reception, probably helped as well. When I saw Bennett being held at the top of my screen as Kaepernick scrambled and threw for the first down, I jumped up in amazement. There were a couple plays like that, but you can’t blame a couple non-calls for a loss. You can boo and hiss because it makes you feel better for a bit (it worked well for me Monday morning) but it doesn’t trump the fact that Seattle committed too many penalties themselves.

Seattle Seahawks

Byron Maxwell (Photo: ctpost.com)

That’s what’s most disappointing about this loss. It’s not that the Seahawks lost to the 49ers, their mortal enemy, it’s that the Seahawks beat themselves. They killed their own drives with penalties, and they allowed the 49ers to keep moving with third down penalties. Any time you give the other team more chances to score, you’re setting yourself up for defeat. Needless to say, this amount of penalties cannot happen again, especially in the playoffs.

There were positives, of course, and despite the frustration elicited by all these penalties, Seattle played a good game. It’s just that without penalties, it would’ve been a great game. Nevertheless, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane both played at phenomenal levels once again. I was especially impressed with Lane. Those two are filling in quite easily for Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, and they deserve to keep these spots for next year with the way they’ve played the past two weeks.

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Jermaine Kearse and Luke Willson deserve shout-outs as well. Kearse made a gorgeous diving catch for a first down, and Willson caught his first touchdown pass. But seriously, if you don’t know the Kearse catch I’m talking about, go look it up. It was absolutely UNREAL.

There’s no need to get discouraged if you’re a Seahawks fan. The penalty situation will resolve itself in practice, and the Seahawks will clinch the NFC West and home field advantage soon enough. Patience is a virtue, and the celebration once it’s accomplished will be worth this slight delay.

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