As yesterday's game wore on, there were different plays I thought could qualify as the play of the game. The 2nd and 18 pass to Michael Crabtree was initially topping the list. That play was huge on so many levels. This is not an offense built to convert many 3rd and 18s, so an incomplete pass would have been troublesome to say the least. Alex Smith has struggled at times on those deep balls down the sideline but he connected with Crabtree, putting the 49ers in position for what would prove to be the game-winning field goal.
However, that play was replaced within a few minutes. After the 49ers took the 19-17 lead, the Seahawks took over at their own 19 with 2:57 to go. I'll be honest, I thought the team was going to lose at this point. I felt myself expecting a Seattle drive to run out the clock and boot a game-winning field goal as time expired. The Seahawks picked up 26 quick yards on a pair of plays and my nerves were getting bad.
After two plays picked up seven, Tarvaris Jackson took off on 3rd and 3 and looked ready to get a first down. Thankfully, however, Larry Grant answered all our Christmas prayers with a huge forced fumble. He came down upon Jackson from behind and stripped the ball. Donte Whitner fell on the ball and that was just about it. The Seahawks did get the ball back one more time, but they were unable to get anything going in the final 41 seconds.
This is the second big game-saving strip of the season. Justin Smith had a monster strip of Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin that allowed the 49ers to secure that win. This wasn't quite the same, but given how the Seahawks drive was looking, it was close enough in my mind.
Larry Grant has really been quite solid in place of Patrick Willis these last few weeks. He is not any kind of replica of Willis, but I don't think 49ers fans could really ask for much more from him at this point. Although he missed some tackles on Saturday, he had arguably the defensive play of the game.
We won't know more about Patrick Willis' status until later this week. I would be a bit surprised if he played next week against the Rams, unless he can get in three full days of work. If he has to sit this coming Sunday, Grant is proving to be a very able replacement for the short term.