Sunday Night Football is always one of the most highly anticipated conclusions to a weekend jam-packed with sports. While each weekend always provides us with some memorable play, moment, or bone-headed mistake, September 13-15 might have just gone down as one of the greatest weekends in sporting history.
Stakes weren’t just high for the combatants in their respective sports—there was a lot of cold, hard cash to be doled out to. With just over $31 of betting money being placed on various sporting events on the calendar, it was apparent that this weekend was for much more than just bragging rights.
Among the many must-see events were the college football re-match of Alabama and Texas A&M, the boxing event of the century in a clash of undefeated boxers Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, and of course…an NFC West clash featuring the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
Before the clash of the NFC powerhouses could even begin, Mother Nature reared her ugly head—in what was the third weather delay into the young NFL season. After the one-hour delay, each and every member of the stadium record 68,000+ crowd showed national audiences why CenturyLink Field boasts one of the biggest home-field advantages in all of football. Even worse for 49er fans, members of the “12th man” discovered that they were having a major impact on the game with their crowd noise—they were going for a world record after all. Kaepernick’s squad dropped a surprisingly one-sided contest to Seattle, 29-3.
Immediately following the coin flip, it was evident that this contest had a lot going for it. The bad blood between the Seahawks and the 49ers is what makes this particularly rivalry one of the more aggressive in all of the NFL—all due respect to Bears/Packers and Steelers/Ravens rivalries. Penalties were at an all-time high in this one, with the heard referee getting about as much face time as the halftime show. The game featured 22 penalties for 205 yards.
Unfortunately for San Francisco, they ran into a buzz saw in hostile territory. The high-octane offense, led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, looked lost at times against the vaunted Seahawks D. His three costly interceptions, and inability to distribute the football to his teammates proved costly to his team’s chances in this one.
Anquan Boldin, who led the Niners with 217 yard receiving and a pair of touchdowns in week one, was absolutely blanketed by Richard Sherman. The league-leading receiver followed up his stellar performance with just one reception for 7 yards, much to the chagrin of his fantasy football owners. Boldin was not the only playmaker frustrated on Sunday, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore were also non-factors for Jim Harbaugh’s high-powered offense.
Though losing a divisional matchup is never a good thing, the 49ers might have lost more than that. Rookie defender Eric Reid from LSU left this contest with a concussion late in the second half of action. After his departure from game-action, backup safety Craig Dahl was not able to provide the same spark. Word is that Reid should be ready for week 3 action—barring a major setback.
In addition to the loss of Reid, the 49ers also saw their dynamic tight end Vernon Davis pull up with an apparent hamstring injury in the early going of fourth quarter action. Davis did not return to the contest. Though there is no word on the status of the injury, Jim Harbaugh and company can ill-afford the loss of Davis’ ability to stretch the field on offense. With Michael Crabtree’s off-season injury and the potential loss of Davis for extended action—the 49ers are running out of playmakers to put on the field. The 49er faithful will be holding their collective breath until an official announcement is made, but Davis’ injury does not appear to have any major consequences that would affect his playing time.
For Seattle, it was a tale of two halves. After an unimpressive first half, Pete Carroll and his staff were able to scrape together a game plan to take advantage of the imposing 49ers defensive unit. As fans have been accustomed to seeing, Marshawn Lynch imposed his will on the opposition—rushing for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Lynch also added 37 yards and a receiving touchdown to his MVP-worthy performance.
Russell Wilson turned in another economical performance. Though not the most exciting or dazzling game of his young career, the result is certainly favorable. The sophomore quarterback appears to have avoided the slump that most second-year signal callers fall victim to—ask Cam Newton. If Wilson’s performance taught us anything, it is that the second-year man out of Wisconsin has a great NFL IQ.
Despite going 8/19 for 142 yards, it was Wilson’s game management skills that led his team to victory. His use of the pump fake, as well as his deceptive paly-action pass abilities are what make the Seattle offense one of the most explosive units in the league. If and when the mercurial Percy Harvin comes back, defensive coordinators are going to have the headache of scheming for this triple threat offense of the Seahawks.
In the battle of read-options, Russell Wilson and company clearly came out on top in this one. There is no question that the hostile environment played a factor in the matchup—but the defense of the 49ers was unable to makeup for the underwhelming performance turned in by Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco just didn’t have an answer for Seattle all night.
On Pete Carroll’s 62nd birthday, his team turned in one of the most complete performances and ultimate victories in Carroll’s long coaching career. But perhaps the perfect birthday present is the number 2. Aside from the number of wins that his team has in their 2013, it is also the number of eyebrows that his quarterback still has—which is more than we can say for Colin Kaepernick as evidenced below.
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