And the Seattle Seahawks are off to their best start in 17 years.
"I wanted that kick," he said. "I really felt tonight was a good night. I warmed up well. It was my night to do something. I don't know if you really look forward to it, but it's part of your job and you've got to handle it with poise."
The 49ers were driving on the ensuing possession when Chad Brown stripped the ball from San Francisco's Garrison Hearst on the first play after the 2-minute warning. The ball came loose near midfield, and safety Ken Hamlin pounced on it.
The linebacker said he was expecting a pass play and was surprised to see Hearst carrying the ball.
"I was trying to get out of the way, so Hearst couldn't block me," he explained. "I saw that he had the ball, and I was so far around that all I could do was get around and chop the ball out."
The Seahawks (4-1) ran out the clock to win -- their second straight home-field victory where they won by one point. They survived some mental lapses to post their best start since opening 4-1 in 1986.
"You've got to believe," Chad Brown said. "As you walk on the field, you've got to find a way to make a play to win the game. It happened again."
Was it simply a case of the 49ers (2-4) running into bad luck?
"No. Seattle is playing good football right now," said Hearst, who made no excuses for the fumble.
Seattle beat St. Louis 24-23 three weeks ago by erasing a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter. This time, the Seahawks breezed to a 17-0 lead in the first half and held off the 49ers down the stretch.
"It hasn't happened to us a whole bunch, but we have had a couple this year already," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said of the close games. "Each one helps build this football team. We can use that."
Owen Pochman put San Francisco ahead 19-17 on a 33-yard field goal with 8:09 remaining.
But the PAT kick was botched, and it turned out to be the difference. Holder Bill LaFleur bobbled the snap, and Pochman had to pause before he punched the ball wide right.
"It got dropped, so I just waited and stood there until it got up for a second," Pochman said. "I tried to get it off and kick what was there with one step. The angle was off so I hit it right."
The game attracted a sellout crowd of 66,437, a record for an NFL game in the 2-year-old stadium.
The fans cheered the surging Seahawks and welcomed home 49ers coach Dennis Erickson, who was born and raised in Everett, Wash., and coached the Seahawks for four seasons before Holmgren arrived.
"We miss an extra point, and it becomes a one-point game," Erickson said. "That is basically what happened. We had a chance at the end and obviously turned it over. This is a very disappointing loss, as hard as we fought to come back."
Terrell Owens, the brash San Francisco receiver who created a stir in Seattle last season, wasn't a factor.
He was held to four receptions for 36 yards, including only a 12-yard in the second half. In last season's game at Seahawks Stadium, he autographed a football after catching the winning touchdown.
"He's a weapon," Seattle cornerback Willie Williams said. "We just wanted to keep him out of the end zone. Our corners did a great job."
It wasn't easy, though.
Hasselbeck threw an interception to San Francisco's Tony Parrish at Seattle's 34, and the 49ers needed only five plays before Garcia's TD.
Late in the third and early in the fourth, the Seahawks absorbed a series of personal penalties. Hamlin was flagged once for a hard shot on Garcia, fullback Heath Evans got another for unnecessary roughness.
"At times we were our own worst enemy tonight, with our lack of discipline," Holmgren said.
Even Hasselbeck was called once, after he was sacked by Julian Peterson and tossed the ball aside. In an instant, an official threw his flag.
"The official told me he thought I threw the ball at the guy. I wasn't saying anything," Hasselbeck said.
After a Seattle punt, the 49ers drove 45 yards for Pochman's 33-yarder. Josh Brown delivered for the Seahawks on the ensuing possession.
"The way things were going, all the penalties we were getting, it makes you angry," the rookie kicker said. "It makes you want to do something. I had to do my job. I had to come in and make field goals."
The Associated Press News Service
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