3 Key Moments: Delay of game helps sink Seahawks late
The Seahawks were literally inches away from winning the NFC West in another thriller against the San Francisco 49ers. Instead, San Francisco wins the West after defeating Seattle 26-21.
There’s naturally a lot to digest after that close of a game, and many moments happened late in the game worthy of consideration.
Yes, the final play of the game where Seattle tight end Jacob Hollister was just inches short was a huge moment as it was the final play of the game, but there were two things on that very same drive that were arguably more important in Seattle not being able to secure the win.
So, let’s take a look at the three biggest moments from the Seahawks’ tough loss.
Before the final drive, the list looked fairly set. But after the pandemonium in the Seahawks’ last-minute attempt to take the division, this had to get rearranged.
One play was a 49-yard bomb from 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to fullback Kyle Juszczyk right after the Seahawks made it a one-score game after Marshawn Lynch dove over the top for a touchdown. It set up another San Francisco touchdown and gave San Francisco a two-score advantage.
Deebo Samuel, the 49ers’ talented rookie receiver, had some huge plays early in the game that set up a 13-0 San Francisco lead heading into halftime. He had a huge 30-yard catch and a 30-yard touchdown rush. He also had a big third down conversion, beating cornerback Shaquill Griffin to set up a Raheem Mostert touchdown.
On San Francisco’s first drive on offense, Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney jumped offsides, turning a third-and-12 into a third-and-7. San Francisco converted, finding talented tight end George Kittle for the first of his seven catches.
Broken tackles were another huge part of the game. The Seahawks’ defense has struggled to wrap up ball carriers over the last few weeks and it loomed large again. There were plays where San Francisco got extra yards after the first contact both behind the line of scrimmage or for very short gains.
Beast Mode stuffed on fourth down
This didn’t happen on the final drive, but it did prevent the Seahawks from scoring in the first half.
After getting 9 yards on a pass to Hollister, Germain Ifedi had a false start that made it third-and-11. Seattle got 10 yards from Tyler Lockett on the next play, and on fourth-and-1, Lynch was stuffed for no gain and San Francisco took over.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) December 30, 2019
A field goal there would have made it 13-3 at the half, which in the grand scheme of things wouldn’t have changed much going forward, but a first down would have moved the chains and Seattle still could have scored a touchdown. There were 49 seconds left in the half after that play was over and Seattle had two timeouts.
Was it the right play call? It’s hard to tell.
The 49ers crowded the line of scrimmage expecting a run, so it was almost dead from the start, but quarterback Russell Wilson was under duress for the first half and Seattle didn’t do much through the air before halftime.
Regardless, it was a big play that left an exclamation point on a first half that the 49ers just flat out dominated.
No flag for Hollister
I hate pointing fingers at referees for costing games because in a sense it masks other areas that went wrong that also contributed to a loss, but the non-call when Hollister got wrapped up by a 49ers defender was a rough way to help close out a game.
On third-and-goal, Hollister was in the front of the end zone in the middle of the field and got tangled up with a San Francisco defender. It looked like it may have been either holding or pass interference, but instead no flag was called and it brought up fourth down.
Hollister probably wouldn’t have caught the ball if he wasn’t tangled up, but a pass interference penalty or a defensive holding call would have given Seattle the ball much closer to the goal line and a new set of downs.
Again, it’s hard to place a lot of blame on officials, but this one looked like an obvious missed call that may have helped Seattle take the win in the waning seconds of the game.
Delay of game
These aren’t necessarily in order, but if they were, this would be at the top.
After converting a fourth-and-10 from the 12 yard line that brought the Seahawks to the 1, Seattle looked like it was going to take the lead.
Wilson ran to the line and spiked the ball on first-and-goal, and Seattle had three plays to get less than a yard.
What happened next was odd. The Seahawks were out of timeouts and it looked like personnel wasn’t getting in place on the field in time. Lynch was on the field and had a chance to score his second touchdown of the game, but the play clock wound down and Seattle took a delay of game, causing their next three plays to be from the 5-yard line.
After two incompletions, Wilson found Hollister over the middle, but he was just a few inches short.
After the game, head coach Pete Carroll said that the delay of game was a result of the running backs not getting on the field in time because of a miscommunication on the substitution. The play before, the team had no running backs on the field.
It made those next three plays a lot harder than it needed to be.
And to think, a Lynch 1-yard touchdown for the win may have caused another CenturyLink Field earthquake.
Next up for Seattle is a road game against the Eagles in Philadelphia in the wild card round next Sunday. The Seahawks beat the Eagles in Week 12 on the road 17-9.