The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have created one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL over the past several years, but it's also a rivalry that has been decidedly one-sided as of late.
Playing in front of a record-setting home crowd at CenturyLink Field, Pete Carroll's squad controlled the second half en route to a 17-7 win, recording a third straight win over its NFC West adversary.
As has been the case during their current four-game winning streak, the Seahawks were dominant on the defensive side of the ball. They held San Francisco to 245 yards of total offense, sacking Colin Kaepernick six times and allowing just one scoring drive.
Radio host Dave "Softy" Mahler noted Seattle's impressive recent run:
On the other side of the ball, Marshawn Lynch ran for 91 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.
Carroll, via the team's official Twitter feed, credited the effort from San Francisco:
It wasn't always smooth sailing for Seattle, though. The 49ers, who gained just 412 total yards during losses in the previous two weeks, came out of the gate with a clear emphasis on establishing the running game.
They did it to great success, opening up the rest of the offense, as NFL Philosophy pointed out:
On the only touchdown drive of the first half for either team, San Francisco went 85 yards on 11 plays. Carlos Hyde and Frank Gore each carved up big chunks on the ground, with the latter scoring from 10 yards out on 4th-and-inches.
As ESPN's Terry Blount noted, it was a rare feat against Seattle's red-hot defense:
Not a new development in this rivalry, though, the Seahawks answered physicality with more physicality, turning to their beast in the second half.
Lynch, who tallied just 15 rushing yards through the first two quarters, equaled that number on his first two touches after intermission. The Hawks ran the ball seven times on a 10-play, 60-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter, with Lynch punching it in from four yards out.
That particular run entrenched the bruising 28-year-old in rare company, per ESPN Stats and Info:
On the ensuing kickoff, Hyde suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury, joining a concussed Gore on the sideline. The 49ers' balance on offense was suddenly gone, leaving Kaepernick to miss a wide-open Anquan Boldin before taking a sack—his fifth of the game—on third down.
The Seahawks took advantage of the short field. Aided by a questionable roughing the passer penalty on third down, they went 44 yards, with Wilson throwing a 10-yard dart to Paul Richardson for the rookie's first career touchdown.
Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar criticized the crucial call:
It wouldn't matter, though. Against a Seattle defense flying to the ball and getting more fired up with each subsequent drive, San Francisco couldn't score. The Niners were stopped on fourth down on their next two drives, finishing with just 67 yards in the second half.
Cliff Avril, via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Stephen Cohen, talked about the team's focus on excelling down the stretch:
The 49ers, now eliminated from postseason contention, return home for their final two games of the season. They can still get to nine wins, but with every subsequent loss, Jim Harbaugh's future with the team becomes less certain.
ESPN's Jason Whitlock provided his hottest take for the franchise moving forward:
Seattle, meanwhile, heads to Arizona next week for control of first place in the NFC West. With a win there coupled with a win at home Week 17 against the St. Louis Rams, the Seahawks only need a Dallas Cowboys loss to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
As we saw last season, that's bad news for the rest of the NFL.