Delanie Walker’s third-quarter touchdown catch made the difference on Thursday as San Francisco beat Seattle 13-6 in a tough defensive battle to seize the lead in the NFL’s NFC West division.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith completed 14 of 23 passes for 140 yards, one touchdown and one interception and David Akers booted a pair of field goals for the 49ers, who rebounded from a lopsided loss to the New York Giants last weekend in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game.
Frank Gore ran for 131 yards on 16 carries for San Francisco and had five catches for 51 yards to help the 49ers come out on top in their first division match-up of the season.
“I was expecting a close, physical game because that’s how both our games were last year,” Smith said. “I didn’t expect a big stat game, but this was a really tough one that we had tonight. This is a very satisfying win for the whole club.”
Seahawks signal-caller Russell Wilson endured a difficult game, completing just nine of 23 passes with an interception for the Seahawks, who had two first-half field goals from Steven Hauschka.
Seattle had won two straight coming into the game, but fell to 4-3.
Seattle led by three at halftime, but had to punt on the first possession of the second half.
San Francisco capped a drive with Smith’s 12-yard touchdown throw to Walker, and the 49ers’ Dashon Goldson then intercepted Wilson.
Smith then threw an interception of his own before San Francisco completed the scoring with a second field goal from Akers with 5:24 to play.
The contest kicked off a week of NFL action that includes an AFC East division clash between perennial contenders the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
The Jets travel to New England tied with the Patriots for the division lead at 3-3, and Jets coach Rex Ryan was typically bullish on his team’s chances.
“I want them to know, and they know, that I think we’re going to beat them,” Ryan said. “Look, I recognize they’re a great football team and [Bill] Belichick is a great coach. I’ve never once said he wasn’t. But we’re not going to back down or concede anything.”
There’s plenty at stake tomorrow, with the winner remaining the standard-bearer in the division.
If it’s the Jets, they’ll be 3-0 in divisional play and have an advantage in potential tiebreakers.
“A division opponent is critical. We’ve only played one of those games this year,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “They’re going to try to figure out what they need to do to stop us and we’ve got to figure out ways to move the ball and really put the ball in the end zone.”
Brady made it clear that 3-3 isn’t a record the Patriots are too proud of, nor is it something that troubles them too much.
“We haven’t earned a better record than that,” he said. “We haven’t played well enough and consistently enough to be better than that, but I don’t think six games defines a season.”
The Super Bowl champion New York Giants host the Washington Redskins in a clash of NFC East contenders.
The Giants top the division at 4-2, but both their defeats have come against division rivals.
The Giants defense is gearing up for the challenge of Washington’s fleet-footed rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. “Forget all the running stuff. This guy is good. They got a real good player on their hands and we got a problem on ours.”
Since opening the season with a loss to Dallas, the Giants have won four of five games and are fresh off a victory over the 49ers in San Francisco. The Redskins will be playing their second straight game on the road, trying to build on a victory at Minnesota.
New Orleans, coming off a bye week and seeking just their second win of the season, visit a Tampa Bay team buoyed by a big 38-10 victory over Kansas City last week.
Other games see Baltimore at Houston, Tennessee at Buffalo, Dallas at Carolina, Cleveland at Indianapolis, Green Bay at St. Louis, Arizona at Minnesota, Jacksonville at Oakland, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati and on Monday, Detroit at Chicago.