The San Francisco 49ers won a nail-biter over the Seattle Seahawks, escaping with a 19-17 victory after Phil Dawson's late field goal. When a game is that close, the losing team will look at the many situations where a small change in the outcome could have resulted in victory. Whether it be a bad call, a poorly executed play, or just poor play-calling on a 3rd and short, it's easy to wonder what could have been.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had a few things to say following the game, and pointed to some
Richard Sherman: We expected to blow them out but they got the benefit of a few calls...we'll see them again & it will be a different result— Dave Boling (@DaveBoling) December 9, 2013
It's safe to say I am not remotely surprised Sherman is saying this kind of thing. He's a very confident individual, and it frequently rolls over to cockiness. That's fine when you can back it up, but when you lose games, well, it's kinda weak. nice if Sherman shut his mouth on occasion, but what are you gonna do?
For those wondering, prior to the game, during the Seahawks breakdown before heading to the locker room, Sherman referred to the game as a "glorified practice" (at the 8 second mark). While it was over the top, in those pre-game team breakdowns I don't think it's really that big a deal. It's teams getting fired up. I only mention it because people have brought it up on Twitter and in the comments.
I actually agree that the 49ers did get the benefit of a few calls. I also think the Seahawks got the benefit of a few calls. This was as poorly an officiating a game as I have seen in some time. It was nice to see the Seahawks secondary getting called for their sometimes over-physicality, but I suppose with questionable officiating, you're going to have to take the bad with the good. It's lame, but that's life in the NFL these days.
Let's be clear on something. I'm sure if the 49ers had lost, Jim Harbaugh would have danced around the poor officiating as well. I don't know that any of the 49ers players would have been quite so brazen as Sherman in blaming the refs, but there would be been some finger-pointing. Given that, I'm trying to not get too holier than thou with this.
The 49ers and Seahawks could still square off again with a whole lot more on the line. Donte Whitner mentioned it after the game:
"Yeah, we believe it'll come down to us and them, probably at their place. That's the kind of game you want. We have to go there, where we haven't won (the past two seasons). It's going to be loud environment. It's going to be for the big one."
The Seahawks have already clinched a playoff spot, and the 49ers do not need help to make the playoffs (I refuse to say "control their own fate", because fate inherently can't be controlled, right?). The 49ers are looking at the 5 or 6 seed, while the Seahawks are on track to claim the No. 1 seed. If the 49ers end up as the No. 6 seed and won their first round game, they would travel to Seattle in Round 2. If the 49ers were the 5 seed, it would depend on how the No. 3 vs. No. 6 game goes. A 6-seed win means the 49ers could only face the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.
Whatever the case, a playoff matchup between these two would be kind of epic. The 49ers have lost their last two games in Seattle in rather ugly fashion. Their last win at Century Link Field came on Christmas Eve in 2011, in a game I actually attended. If the two square off, maybe I need to make my way over there!
The 49ers and Seahawks are not the biggest historic rivals, but for right now, I think is the best rivalry in football. You have two very good teams competing for playoff positioning. They played a hard fought game, and I have a hunch, if the 49ers had to head back to Seattle, it would not be the lopsided final scores we've seen the last two games up there.