Richard Sherman is really something. A heck of a cornerback and a person who keeps his mouth wide open as long as he is awake. Meanwhile, Sherman was wide awake when it mattered today, as he tipped an end zone pass into the hands of teammate Malcolm Smith which in turn ended a furious San Francisco rally and punched the Seattle Seahawks ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawks 23-17 victory today sends them to their first Super Bowl since 2005.
It wasn’t so much what he did on that aforementioned play and on other plays during the game, it’s what he said after the game. He likened gifted 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree (4 catches for 52 yards) to garbage which is clearly a false statement, but any time Sherman opens his mouth it will certainly be something controversial.
Meanwhile, a targeting penalty on 49ers safety Donte Whitner on tight end Luke Willson gave the Seahawks the ball at the SF 49. What really sold that play was the fact that Willson flopped on the ground like a dying fish after Whitner clearly missed the receiver’s head and barely even touched the rest of the receiver’s body. Willson deserved an Oscar nomination for that “performance.”
Later in the drive and on 3rd and 7, explosive receiver Doug Baldwin (6 catches for 106 yards) caught a 22 yard pass over the head of safety Eric Reid near the right sideline boundary and fell down at the SEA 36. But 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (led the team with 8 tackles and he had 1 sack and a forced fumble) saved Whitner’s bacon, with an 11 yard sack of quarterback Russell Wilson (16 of 25 for 215 yards and 1 touchdown) at the SEA 41 which forced a 4th and 20 punt from Seattle’s Jon Ryan.
The 49ers added to their 3-0 lead when on 4th and 1 at the SEA 1 yard line, running back Anthony Dixon took a Colin Kaepernick (14 of 24 for 153 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions) handoff and then dove straight ahead from the SEA 2 into the end zone behind key blocks from fullback Will Tukuafu and left guard Mike Iupati. Dixon’s touchdown gave the Niners a 10-0 lead with 10:03 left in the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, Wilson with all evening to throw, couldn’t find anyone open so he scrambled around a bit. Then at the last minute, Baldwin broke off his route and ran a deep cross and Wilson saw it and the quarterback heaved a Hail Mary into double coverage to the receiver who caught the pass and then fell on his back at the SF 11 for a 51 yard gain.
But a sack by linebacker Dan Skuta, a short run by Lynch, and an incomplete pass intended for Jermaine Kearse (2 catches for 44 yards and 1 score) on successive plays sent in Steven Hauschka to attempt a 32 yard field goal. Hauschka made the kick and the score was now 10-3 San Francisco with 5:47 left in the first half.
On the Seahawks’ next scoring drive, Marshawn Lynch (22 carries for 109 yards and 1 score) tied up the game with a determined and untouched cutback off the left guard 40 yard touchdown run, behind a helpful block from backup left tackle Allen Bailey. The score was now 10-10 with 9:51 left in the 3rd quarter.
Baldwin came up big for the Seahawks again, this time on a 69 yard kickoff return down the right sideline to the SF 33. That return set up a successful 40 yard Hauschka field goal that cut into the Niners lead at 17-13 with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
Wilson early in the fourth quarter, showed why so much praise is thrown his way. On 4th and 7 from the SF 35, Wilson ignored the fact that the Niners had a defensive lineman jump off sides, so he then went through his progressions for a few seconds. Finally he let go a pass that traveled down field and into the hands of Kearse, who leaped high into the air right in front of 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers in the end zone and secured the pass for a 35 yard eventual game-winning score. Kearse’s good hands gave the Seahawks a 20-17 lead with 13:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Seattle receiver Golden Tate helped seal the Niners fate when he took a Wilson pass 10 yards to the SF 38 on 3rd and 8, a play in which he tried so hard not to be tackled. That big reception set up Hauschka’s third successful field goal of the game with this one being a 53 yarder. The score was now 23-17 with 3:37 left in the game on what would be Seattle’s second to last drive of the contest.
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