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49ers upset Seattle 24-14 again

SEATTLE (AP) _ Alex Smith threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes and the San Francisco 49ers prevented the Seattle Seahawks from clinching a third straight NFL division title with a surprising 24-14 win on Thursday.

``I think this team grew up a little bit tonight,'' Smith said.

Smith threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis early in the fourth, then capped a 10-play, 73-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Frank Gore with 4:01 left that sent wet _ and shocked _ Seahawks' fans for the exits.

One play after a delay-of-game penalty on third-and-1, Smith stepped out of Kelly Herndon's grasp, scrambled and found Gore behind the defense at the goal line. San Francisco's players erupted into celebration, as the 49ers (6-8) broke a three-game losing streak and swept both games from Seattle this season.

If that wasn't enough, Smith faked the entire Seattle defense and jogged 18 yards for a touchdown with 1:42 left to cap a night when he looked more like former star 49ers quarterbacks Steve Young and Joe Montana than first-round busts of the past.

``The boy just became a grown man today, baby,'' Gore said of his quarterback. ``And there's a lot more to come.''

Seattle (8-6) lost its second straight NFC West divisional game, ending any hopes of getting a first-round bye in the playoffs and the performance only added to the questions about the Seahawks' inconsistent play.

Smith finished 14-of-25 for 162 yards, a far cry from the first half when the former No. 1 draft pick was 5-of-12 for 38 yards and the 49ers' best offensive play was a 33-yard run on a fake punt.

With Smith finding holes in Seattle's secondary, Gore put the game away. Gore, who ran for a franchise record 212 yards in the first meeting between the teams, had 104 of his 144 yards in the fourth quarter.

``As we kept going at it, we just wore them down,'' he said.

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw a 22-yard touchdown to Jerramy Stevens with 9 seconds left for the final margin, but Hasselbeck was outplayed by Smith and Shaun Alexander never found holes to run.

Hasselbeck finished 20-of-37 for 220 yards, but threw a pair of interceptions, the most damaging on the first possession of the second half on second-and-11 at the San Francisco 20.

Seattle's offense threatened only once more before Stevens' touchdown. Alexander and Mack Strong were both stopped needing just one yard with 9:37 left, turning the ball over on downs and causing coach Mike Holmgren to flail his arms on the sideline in disgust.

``We realized what was at stake and we didn't play very well,'' Holmgren said.

Alexander was held to 73 yards, 40 coming on Seattle's first quarter scoring drive, capped by a 3-yard plunge by Alexander, just his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
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