The Seattle Seahawks stumbled against the San Francisco 49ers, 19-17, picking up just their second loss of the season. It was a game that featured six lead changes, and the Seahawks just came up short at the end of the game.
FINAL: 49ers 19, Seahawks 17. Seattle moves to 11-2 on the season and maintains two-game lead in the NFC West. #SEAvsSF— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 9, 2013
The Seahawks must now get ready for their final road game of the season next week and another chance to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Before everyone moves on to preparing for the New York Giants, here are eight takeaways from Sunday's loss:
All stats taken from ESPN.com.
The Seahawks were able to get nothing going offensively early in this game. Seattle managed just two first downs in the first quarter. The Seahawks gave up two sacks and failed to convert a third down.
The Seahawks have managed to get this problem under control in recent weeks, but it came back this week in San Francisco.
Sixth time this year Seattle held scoreless in first quarter.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) December 8, 2013
It can be difficult to gauge the impact of defensive end Red Bryant in most games. He's not a pass-rusher, and his role against the run is mostly to eat up blocks and keep the linebackers free to make tackles. Bryant was often double-teamed against the run this week, and he still managed to make a major impact.
Bryant was in the backfield on a number of running plays and was a big part of why running back Frank Gore struggled to get going. When Bryant plays this well, Seattle's run defense can be very tough.
Red Bryant just destroyed that third-down run play.— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) December 8, 2013
The Seahawks have one of the top pass-rushing defensive lines in the NFL. Defensive ends Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are all among the most productive pass-rushers in the league this season.
That wasn't the case in San Francisco this week. The trio all struggled to get pressure on quarterback Colin Kaepernick on most plays, and it made for a tough day for the Seahawks in coverage.
This was the third game in a row in which the Seahawks were unable to get running back Marshawn Lynch and the running game going. Lynch ended up with just 72 yards and 3.6 yards per carry.
Seattle's run blockers struggled to keep the 49ers defenders out of the backfield. Without Lynch and the running game, Seattle's offense stalled and failed to put up points.
As was reported by Curtis Crabtree of KJR, the Seahawks lost linebacker K.J. Wright in this game with a broken bone in his foot. He is expected to be out for six weeks.
This is a major blow for Seattle's defense. Wright has been a huge factor in recent games, especially in coverage. If the timetable holds up, Wright would be back in time for the Super Bowl.
Carroll says K.J. Wright has a broken bone in his foot. Probably six-week injury.— Curtis Crabtree (@Curtis_Crabtree) December 9, 2013
The Seahawks had a punt blocked in the first half of this game. The three points that the 49ers got from that play turned out to be the difference in this game.
That was the second blocked punt this season. Seattle has also given up a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown and had a field-goal snap fumbled that was turned into a touchdown earlier this season.
The Seahawks cannot afford to make those types of mistake if they expect to win once the playoffs begin.
While many of the penalties were questionable in nature, the Seahawks still committed nine penalties for 85 yards on Sunday. The 49ers were given multiple first downs via penalties by Seattle's defense.
The Seahawks are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, and it finally cost them in this game. Perhaps now the coaches will finally make an effort to clean up this major problem.
This was a tough loss for the Seahawks, but the end result matters very little. The Seahawks still have a two-game lead in the division with just three games left to play. Seattle also will have a one-game lead and the tiebreaker in its favor for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The Seahawks can wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC with wins in two of their final three games this season.