Seahawks 24

(4-8, 2-4 away)

49ers 31

(8-4, 5-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:15 PM ET, December 1, 2002


1 2 3 4 T
SEA 0 3 7 1424
SF 0 17 7 731

49ers build big lead then hold off Seahawks

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco 49ers are one win away from reclaiming the NFC West, though you couldn't see it in their somber faces after they nearly let another victory slip away.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Seahawks: Are they lacking playmakers on defense or are guys simply underachieving?
I think they're underachieving on defense. On offense, they've invested a lot in some guys who aren't ready to carry the team. There are questions at quarterback, and I'm not sure Alexander is the type of running back who's physical enough to get the job done in between the guards. A West Coast offense also needs a tight end who can produce in between the hash marks.

Question on the 49ers: Do you think they're capable of establishing some consistency heading into the playoffs?
I don't think so. The 49ers have the personnel to be dominant, but they're not. The defense has great speed on the outside, and the offense has weapons (notably Terrell Owens). But they allow opponents to hang around. And that won't help a team establish consistency.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Garrison Hearst rushed for 124 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and Jimmy Williams returned a punt 89 yards for a score as the 49ers snapped their first two-game losing streak in two years with a 31-24 win over Seattle on Sunday.

The 49ers (8-4) took a three-game lead in the division, which they can win for the first time since 1997 with another victory and a loss by St. Louis (5-7) in the final four games.

But it was hard to find anybody who was excited about division titles and playoff glory at Candlestick Park. The Niners were uniformly glum about their fourth-quarter collapse, which only ended when Matt Hasselbeck's pass was intercepted by Rashad Holman in San Francisco territory with 1:23 left.

"I want to see better things out of this offense,'' said Jeff Garcia, who passed for just 164 yards following two early interceptions. "We all want to be better. Today was frustrating, because I don't see the progress being made on a daily basis.''

Despite an inconsistent offense and a young, injury-plagued defense, San Francisco swept the season series from the Seahawks. The Niners won the division rivals' first meeting since Terrell Owens' infamous pen-in-the-sock stunt seven weeks earlier in San Francisco's 28-21 win at Seattle.

The 49ers took a 31-10 lead on Hearst's third score early in the fourth quarter. But Hasselbeck had 311 of his 427 yards passing in the second half, and he rallied the Seahawks to two scores, including a 3-yard TD pass to Darrell Jackson with 1:57 left.

Orlando Huff recovered an onside kick, and the Seahawks reached the San Francisco 43. Hasselbeck threw his next pass directly to Holman, and the backup safety, playing because of widespread injuries in the secondary, made his second career interception.

"They might feel bad about letting us in it, but we feel bad about letting them get so far out ahead,'' said Hasselbeck, who was 30-of-55 in another strong game. "We were out of this game, and this place emptied out. I know if I had played better, we could have got it done.''

Until the late fireworks, this game belonged to Hearst. Kevan Barlow was out with a sprained knee, leaving Hearst to carry both halves of the load in their usual tailback tandem.

Against the NFL's worst rushing defense, Hearst handled his 31 carries exceptionally well -- and was undoubtedly grateful to focus on football instead of the controversy caused by his anti-gay remarks earlier this season.

"Just being in the game for the whole time felt great,'' Hearst said. "No matter what it looked like, we won the game. ... (The touchdowns) were easy. Those were big holes.''

On the way to his highest rushing total of the season, Hearst got a 5-yard TD and a pair of 1-yard scores.

Owens caught five passes for 45 yards this time, never getting close to the end zone until the final minutes. None of the Seahawks took any revenge for his autograph celebration.

Jackson caught two TD passes for the Seahawks (4-8), whose playoff chances in coach Mike Holmgren's fourth season are all but dead. But he was hurried by countless blitzes and victimized by several drops early on. Koren Robinson had the worst butterfingers, though he also caught a late TD pass.

"We were too sloppy. That was the bottom line,'' Holmgren said. "You could mess with the numbers any way you want, and we'd come out with a good chance to win this thing. Given our state of affairs with an unusual number of new people, I choose to see the glass half-full.''

The Niners' offense got going in the second quarter when Hearst scored to cap a 14-play drive. After the Seahawks stalled, Williams sliced through them for a long punt return, bursting past punter Jeff Feagles and two more Seahawks at midfield before jogging into the end zone.

Jackson caught a 32-yard TD pass, his first of the season, in the third quarter. But he fumbled at the San Francisco 6 following another long reception -- just one of several costly mistakes by the Seahawks' mercurial passing game.

Game notes

Hearst was the first San Francisco running back to score three touchdowns in a game since Ricky Watters in 1992. ... Seattle unsuccessfully challenged Jackson's key fumble. When referee Tom White explained the call to Jackson, the receiver turned and spiked his helmet on the ground. ... In the third quarter, Niners safety Tony Parrish deflected a pass into the air to himself and returned the interception inside the 5 to set up Hearst's second TD.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 0 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
sfTD10:35Garrison Hearst, 1 yd run
Drive info: 3 plays, 3 yds, 0:32
Drive info: 3 plays, 67 yds, 0:32
Drive info: 3 plays, 3 yds, 0:32
Drive info: 3 plays, 67 yds, 0:32
Drive info: 1 plays, 14 yds, 2:13
Drive info: 6 plays, 57 yds, 0:47
Drive info: 6 plays, 57 yds, 0:47
Drive info: 1 plays, 77 yds, 1:48
Drive info: 1 plays, 77 yds, 1:48
sfFG0:23Jeff Chandler 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 58 yds, 1:46
seaFG14:30Rian Lindell 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 91 yds, 15:05
sfTD6:35Garrison Hearst, 5 yd run
Drive info: 14 plays, 70 yds, 6:51
sfTD13:50Garrison Hearst, 1 yd run
Drive info: 10 plays, 93 yds, 14:03
Drive info: 14 plays, 70 yds, 6:51
Drive info: 10 plays, 93 yds, 14:03