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Hearst Fumble Proves Costly

October 13, 2003|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks are off to their best start in 17 years, thanks to a rookie kicker who ignored the pressure and an opportunistic defense that created pressure of its own.

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.

The 49ers were driving on the ensuing possession when Seattle's opportunistic defense, held in check much of the night, finally struck.

On the first play after the two-minute warning, San Francisco's Garrison Hearst had the ball stripped by linebacker Chad Brown on a one-yard run at midfield and safety Ken Hamlin pounced on it.

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

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 (2-4) down the stretch.

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 point-after 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.

The game was seen by 66,437, a record for an NFL game in the two-year-old stadium. They came out to cheer the surging Seahawks and welcome home 49ers Coach Dennis Erickson, who was born and raised in Everett, Wash.

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-yarder in the second half. In last season's game at Seahawks Stadium, he autographed a football after catching the winning touchdown.

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