Richard Sherman provided the moment of the game against the 49ers once again, a mere 10 months after his touchdown-saving deflection in the NFC Championship Game that sent the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
Sherman set up the only touchdown with another key defensive play in this heated rivalry, then made a second interception with the 49ers driving late, and the Seahawks ended a five-game losing streak on San Francisco’s home field with a 19-3 win Thursday night.
The brash cornerback offered plenty without opening his mouth this time: blowing kisses to the crowd, then putting a finger to his lips to make the hush sign before waving goodbye.
Steven Hauschka kicked four field goals and the Seahawks’ stout defense held Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree in check as Seattle (8-4) overcame 14 penalties for 105 yards, including an offensive pass interference that negated a touchdown.
Russell Wilson passed for 236 yards and thoroughly outplayed Kaepernick, who had one of his worst performances for the 49ers (7-5) in a game with high stakes for the teams’ playoff hopes.
“My team’s all together, we are buddies. It’s a hard thing to do, winning on their turf,” Wilson said. “The NFC is not easy to win against. We are excited about that opportunity.”
After his second pick, Sherman looked at those fans still remaining in half-empty stadium on a Thanksgiving night and waved. The Seahawks won by the identical score they beat first-place Arizona five days earlier.
“Their fans were saying some pretty vulgar things to us earlier, you never want to hear that,” Sherman said.
Kaepernick was 16 for 29 for 121 yards and the 49ers were outgained 379-164.
Sherman and Crabtree were at the center of the decisive play in January’s NFC title game, when Sherman deflected a pass headed his way in the end zone and Malcolm Smith intercepted it with less than a minute remaining to seal the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory. Sherman later called Crabtree “mediocre.”
San Francisco’s offense might have earned that distinction after its latest dud snapped the Niners’ three-game winning streak.
49ers CEO Jed York weighed in via Twitter in the waning moments with thousands of red seats already empty.
The 49ers were held to three points or fewer for the first time since a 29-3 Week 2 loss at Seattle last year.
Sherman got things started when he intercepted Kaepernick’s deep third-down pass on the right sideline in the first quarter to help set up Wilson’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Robert Turbin. A wide-open Turbin easily took the ball down the left sideline on a pretty catch-and-run before beating cornerback Chris Culliver into the end zone.
Hauschka kicked field goals of 21, 36, 35 and 46 yards.
Phil Dawson provided San Francisco’s lone points on a 40-yard field goal late in the third.
Sherman had the fourth two-interception game of his career with his 22nd and 23rd picks since 2011, most in the NFL. It was 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh who turned him into a defensive back at Stanford.
Sherman nearly had another late in the first half, when Seattle outgained San Francisco 202-71. The 49ers were held to 23 yards rushing and shut out in the first half for the first time this season.
“We’ve got to reboot, come back and win them all,” Harbaugh said.
In a lighthearted moment before kickoff, Harbaugh’s black hat blew off during the national anthem and landed on the lowest white stripe of a flag that covered the entire field. A San Francisco staffer quickly retrieved the cap just in time as the flag was being rolled up after “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
SOURCE: The Associated Press