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Seattle off to best start in 17 years

10/13/2003

SEATTLE (AP) -- Josh Brown was stable under pressure. Chad Brown
dodged and chopped, creating a frenzy by forcing a key fumble.

And the Seattle Seahawks are off to their best start in 17
years.

Josh Brown kicked a 37-yard field goal with 3:03 to play,
lifting the Seahawks to a 20-19 victory over the San Francisco
49ers on Sunday night.

"I wanted that kick," he said. "I really felt tonight was a
good night. I warmed up well. It was my night to do something. I
don't know if you really look forward to it, but it's part of your
job and you've got to handle it with poise."

The 49ers were driving on the ensuing possession when Chad Brown
stripped the ball from San Francisco's Garrison Hearst on the first
play after the 2-minute warning. The ball came loose near midfield,
and safety Ken Hamlin pounced on it.

The linebacker said he was expecting a pass play and was
surprised to see Hearst carrying the ball.

"I was trying to get out of the way, so Hearst couldn't block
me," he explained. "I saw that he had the ball, and I was so far
around that all I could do was get around and chop the ball out."

The Seahawks (4-1) ran out the clock to win -- their second
straight home-field victory where they won by one point. They
survived some mental lapses to post their best start since opening
4-1 in 1986.

"You've got to believe," Chad Brown said. "As you walk on the
field, you've got to find a way to make a play to win the game. It
happened again."

Was it simply a case of the 49ers (2-4) running into bad luck?

"No. Seattle is playing good football right now," said Hearst,
who made no excuses for the fumble.

Seattle beat St. Louis 24-23 three weeks ago by erasing a
13-point deficit in the fourth quarter. This time, the Seahawks
breezed to a 17-0 lead in the first half and held off the 49ers
down the stretch.

"It hasn't happened to us a whole bunch, but we have had a
couple this year already," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said of the
close games. "Each one helps build this football team. We can use
that."

Owen Pochman put San Francisco ahead 19-17 on a 33-yard field
goal with 8:09 remaining.

The 49ers pulled to 17-16 late in the third when quarterback
Jeff Garcia bootlegged right and bowled into linebacker Randall
Godfrey to score.

But the PAT kick was botched, and it turned out to be the
difference. Holder Bill LaFleur bobbled the snap, and Pochman had
to pause before he punched the ball wide right.

"It got dropped, so I just waited and stood there until it got
up for a second," Pochman said. "I tried to get it off and kick
what was there with one step. The angle was off so I hit it
right."

The game attracted a sellout crowd of 66,437, a record for an
NFL game in the 2-year-old stadium.

The fans cheered the surging Seahawks and welcomed home 49ers
coach Dennis Erickson, who was born and raised in Everett, Wash.,
and coached the Seahawks for four seasons before Holmgren arrived.

"We miss an extra point, and it becomes a one-point game,"
Erickson said. "That is basically what happened. We had a chance
at the end and obviously turned it over. This is a very
disappointing loss, as hard as we fought to come back."

Terrell Owens, the brash San Francisco receiver who created a
stir in Seattle last season, wasn't a factor.

He was held to four receptions for 36 yards, including only a
12-yard in the second half. In last season's game at Seahawks
Stadium, he autographed a football after catching the winning
touchdown.

"He's a weapon," Seattle cornerback Willie Williams said. "We
just wanted to keep him out of the end zone. Our corners did a
great job."

Matt Hasselbeck completed 17 of 27 passes for 207 yards. Shaun
Alexander carried 22 times for 77 yards as the Seahawks posted
their third victory against their three NFC West opponents.

It wasn't easy, though.

Hasselbeck threw an interception to San Francisco's Tony Parrish
at Seattle's 34, and the 49ers needed only five plays before
Garcia's TD.

Late in the third and early in the fourth, the Seahawks absorbed
a series of personal penalties. Hamlin was flagged once for a hard
shot on Garcia, fullback Heath Evans got another for unnecessary
roughness.

"At times we were our own worst enemy tonight, with our lack of
discipline," Holmgren said.

Even Hasselbeck was called once, after he was sacked by Julian
Peterson and tossed the ball aside. In an instant, an official
threw his flag.

"The official told me he thought I threw the ball at the guy. I
wasn't saying anything," Hasselbeck said.

After a Seattle punt, the 49ers drove 45 yards for Pochman's
33-yarder. Josh Brown delivered for the Seahawks on the ensuing
possession.

"The way things were going, all the penalties we were getting,
it makes you angry," the rookie kicker said. "It makes you want
to do something. I had to do my job. I had to come in and make
field goals."
^Notes:@ Strong's 21-yard TD run in the second quarter was a
career-long burst for the 11-year veteran. ... 49ers tackle Derrick
Deese left in the first quarter with a sprained right ankle. X-rays
were negative. ... T Chris Terry returned from a five-week absence
for violating the NFL's substance abuse and personal conduct
policy. ... San Francisco G Eric Heitmann re-sprained an ankle. ...
Seattle CB Shawn Springs saw limited action but returned two weeks
ahead of schedule from a broken right shoulder blade. He was hurt
in the final preseason game.