San Francisco at Seattle

Seahawks make quick work of Niners, extend cushion atop NFC

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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SEATTLE -- Matt Hasselbeck got up wheezing after throwing his first incompletion Sunday. San Francisco's Derek Smith had just buried his helmet into the Seattle quarterback's chest and drove him into the ground.

"I was just trying to breathe. I felt like I was underwater," he said.

A few welcomed running plays later, Hasselbeck found his breath -- and then flooded the futile 49ers. He completed 21 of 25 passes for 226 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in just three quarters to breeze his NFC-leading Seahawks past San Francisco 41-3.

Bobby Engram caught two of Hasselbeck's scoring throws, as the NFC West champions (11-2) won their team-record ninth straight game. They also showed they might bring along a hot quarterback with NFL rushing leader Shaun Alexander into the playoffs.

"The biggest thing people are missing is, Matt's been leading us on this nine-game winning streak," said Joe Jurevicius, who caught one of Hasselbeck's TD passes.

The only other time Hasselbeck threw more than three scores in his 104-game career was a five-TD performance on Nov. 23, 2003, an overtime loss at Baltimore.

"I really hate saying good things about him, because it goes to his head," center Robbie Tobeck said, almost laughing. "All you hear about is Shaun, which is great. He's deserved it. But Matt's done a great job leading this team."

Tobeck has been where this franchise never has gone: the Super Bowl. He went with Atlanta in 1998, when Falcons quarterback Chris Chandler got hot late in the season.

"You can't win in the playoffs if you don't have a quarterback who is playing well," he said. "It's impossible to do it without that."

Alexander added 108 yards on 21 carries and his league-leading 23rd touchdown rushing late in the third quarter. He is four TDs from the league's single-season record of 27, set by Priest Holmes of Kansas City in 2003.

The Seahawks completed their division schedule 6-0, the first time in the franchise's 30-year history it has been spotless within its division.

Seattle's perfect day didn't end there: Chicago and Carolina, its closest competitors for the top seed in the NFC playoffs, both lost. The Seahawks have a two-game lead for playoff home-field advantage with three games to play.

How important might that be? They are 21-4 in the regular season and postseason at home since the end of the 2002 season.

"We have the opportunity to do some wonderful things," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I can't see that there would be any chance of a letdown."

San Francisco (2-11) stayed with the Seahawks through its first drive, which ended with a 39-yard field goal. Rookie quarterback Alex Smith completed his first two passes in his second start since returning from a five-week knee injury.

But then Smith hit on just 2 of 11 throws while playing behind an offensive line with new starters in all five positions since last season. In that horrid stretch, Smith dropped the ball while trying to throw it to avoid a sack and fumbled, one of three he had. He also threw a pass high and behind running back Terry Jackson that Seattle's Lofa Tatupu intercepted.

San Francisco had just 113 yards of offense -- the lowest ever for a Seattle opponent.

"It is not this Sunday we are playing for, but things down the road that are ahead of us," Smith said. "We are trying to get better -- especially myself. It is something I take to heart."

The Seahawks immediately took to San Francisco's defensive attempt to crowd the line against Alexander and force Hasselbeck to win through the air. Dallas and the New York Giants largely succeeded with that tack in recent games.

But Hasselbeck completed eight of his first nine passes for three touchdowns over the first 15:22 of the game.

His second score came after Derek Smith's third-down, personal-foul penalty for ripping his head into Hasselbeck's chest. That kept alive Seattle's drive that ended with Hasselbeck's patient, 8-yard touchdown throw to tight end Jerramy Stevens.

"Thankfully, Coach Holmgren called three or four running plays right after that so I could catch my breath," Hasselbeck said, laughing.

"When things are rolling, you can kind of joke about it."

Notes

  • Seattle's offense didn't punt until four minutes remained in the third quarter. By then, it was 31-3.
  • Three weeks after burning Seattle with seven catches for 119 yards and touchdown, San Francisco's Brandon Lloyd had just three catches for 37 yards.
  • Alexander had his ninth consecutive 100-yard rushing game against the NFC West, the longest such streak in NFL history within a division.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Bobby Engram makes a young fan's day after scoring a 28-yard TD in the first quarter.
 
Bobby Engram makes a young fan's day after scoring a 28-yard TD in the first quarter. (Getty Images)
 

 

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Sun. Dec. 11Final
30003
Seattle
(11-2)
71714341
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDBobby Engram, 28 Yd pass from Matt Hasselbeck (Josh Brown kick is good), 10:40. Drive: 8 plays, 65 yards in 4:20.
FGJoe Nedney 39 Yd, 4:35. Drive: 11 plays, 43 yards in 6:05.
2ND QUARTER
TDJerramy Stevens, 8 Yd pass from Matt Hasselbeck (Josh Brown kick is good), 14:56. Drive: 10 plays, 85 yards in 4:39.
TDJoe Jurevicius, 21 Yd pass from Matt Hasselbeck (Josh Brown kick is good), 14:38. Drive: 1 play, 21 yards in 0:07.
FGJosh Brown 52 Yd, 7:28. Drive: 9 plays, 12 yards in 4:58.
3RD QUARTER
TDBobby Engram, 7 Yd pass from Matt Hasselbeck (Josh Brown kick is good), 7:13. Drive: 11 plays, 79 yards in 6:07.
TDShaun Alexander, 3 Yd run (Josh Brown kick is good), 1:29. Drive: 4 plays, 69 yards in 1:27.
4TH QUARTER
FGJosh Brown 52 Yd, 5:15. Drive: 7 plays, 17 yards in 2:29.
Players of the Game
Indianapolis

M. Hasselbeck
Att 25
Comp 21
Yds 226
TD 4

K. Barlow
Rush 11
Yds 33
Avg 3.0
TD 0
 
San Francisco
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
A. Smith9/227701
RushingATTYDSTDLG
K. Barlow1133011
A. Smith62006
F. Gore2504
M. Hicks2402
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. Lloyd337014
K. Barlow230024
F. Gore1606
J. McAddley1404
C. Hetherington1202
M. Hicks1-20-2
Seattle
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Hasselbeck21/2522641
S. Wallace3/53300
RushingATTYDSTDLG
S. Alexander21108116
L. Weaver541024
M. Morris72207
M. Hasselbeck1909
M. Strong4804
S. Wallace2-30-1
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. Engram665228
J. Jurevicius463125
D. Hackett343026
J. Stevens328111
P. Warrick222014
S. Alexander42008
R. Hannam112012
M. Strong1606
Complete Player Stats
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ATL 36
DET 13 Final
GB 16
MIA 23 Final
SD 21
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DEN 12
KC 28 Final
DAL 31
NYG 26 Final
PHI 23
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ARI 13
HOU 10 Final
TEN 13
CHI 9 Final
PIT 21
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NYJ 26
STL 13 Final
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JAC 18
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BUF 7