SAN FRANCISCO -- Collapses have long been commonplace for the Seattle Seahawks, and this one was shaping up as a shameful classic. They were one pass away from blowing a 15-point lead and going to overtime after failing to stop the backups on one of the NFL's worst teams.
But these Seahawks believe they can change their flop-filled history. And when Ken Dorsey's final pass bounced in the end zone, Seattle changed, all right -- into the conference's winningest team.
After the color returned to their faces, the Seahawks (8-2) realized they matched the best start in franchise history, also accomplished in 1999 and 1984 -- the last time the Seahawks won a playoff game. The '99 team was a more typical Seattle squad, losing five of its last six in coach Mike Holmgren's first season.
"In the past, we might have let this one slip away, but this is a different team and a different season," Holmgren said. "You have to win a game like this. It was important for us to win a game like this. You go in and everyone is talking about it all week -- what a lopsided game it could be -- because the players and the coaches are human beings."
Matt Hasselbeck was 19-of-31 for 233 yards and a TD pass to D.J. Hackett as the league's most prolific offense dominated the first three quarters, racking up 357 yards. But Seattle stalled in the fourth quarter, managing just 16 yards and no first downs while awakening those memories of embarrassing midseason losses.
And with coordinator Ray Rhodes back home in Seattle after his second stroke-like episode this season, the Seahawks defense nearly blew a victory that put them alone atop the NFC after Carolina's loss to Chicago.
But the defense barely held, the offense still had good numbers -- and the Seahawks tried to get used to getting the breaks.
"My brother used to always tell me that when you are really doing good, you start to make things that are great, normal," said Alexander, who leads the NFL with 1,229 yards rushing. "That's what I'm trying to do, and our team is trying to do that, too. We are trying to make winning normal. We are trying to make 100-yard games normal ... because after that, the sky is the limit."
The 49ers (2-8), whose offense has been terrible all season, staged an improbable rally around Dorsey, who passed for 249 yards in his second start of the season. After snapping a streak of 47 consecutive possessions without a touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter, San Francisco made a last-ditch, 13-play scoring drive.
Dorsey was 6-of-8 for 77 yards in the series, and Jason McAddley went 29 yards on his first reception of the season. Third-string running back Maurice Hicks finished it with a 1-yard dive, stretching over the goal line.
But on the 2-point conversion attempt, Dorsey bounced a tough throw to Johnnie Morton in the back of the end zone. Marquand Manuel recovered the onside kick, and the Seahawks kneeled on their fifth straight victory over San Francisco.
"It's deflating. You can't say anything more," Dorsey said. "We fought so hard to get back. The guys did such a great job fighting to get back, and to fall short like that hurts."
Brandon Lloyd had seven catches for 119 yards for the 49ers (2-8), who lost for the eighth time in nine games despite their offense's most encouraging performance since the season opener.
San Francisco kept it close throughout, pulling within 27-19 early in the fourth on Lloyd's 22-yard touchdown catch -- the Niners' first TD at home in 16 quarters.
"We grew up a lot," Lloyd said. "We're going to measure our progress based on how we play next week (at Tennessee). We're maturing in practice, and it was nice to see it on the field."
Dorsey was solid and even exciting, going 18-of-29 without an interception after the 49ers' fourth starting quarterback change in six games. Dorsey replaced Cody Pickett, who completed just one pass in last week's loss at Chicago.
- At halftime, the 49ers presented the Hall of Fame ring to Steve Young, the two-time MVP who led them to a championship after the 1994 season.
- Hicks rushed for 83 yards in his first playing time at RB this season in place of injured Kevan Barlow (concussion) and rookie Frank Gore (groin/hip).
- Joe Nedney added four more field goals for the Niners, giving him 14 in the last four games. Josh Brown kicked two for Seattle.