SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers hung tough late in the game to stun Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the road and in the rain to clinch a playoff berth when few expected them to win in Foxborough, Mass.
Now, after a long trip home following their 41-34 victory, the Niners (10-3-1) must play a second straight game on the Sunday night prime-time stage when they visit Seattle trying to wrap up a second consecutive NFC West crown.
"This is a huge win for us," left tackle Joe Staley said. "With Seattle winning, we had to win this game."
The Seahawks (9-5) have scored 108 points in their last two games - a 50-17 win at Buffalo on Sunday after a 58-0 rout of Arizona a week earlier.
The 49ers have some momentum coming down the stretch in late December as they gear up for another postseason run, one they hope goes one step further than their overtime loss to the eventual champion Giants in last January's NFC title game.
Beating New England (10-4) didn't hurt as San Francisco prepares for the games that matter most.
Several of the 49ers said Sunday's game felt like a preview of the playoffs - with Brady and the Patriots' offense against San Francisco's opportunistic defense.
Harbaugh watched Sunday's game again, noting that the Niners had chances to get off the field during the Patriots' stretch scoring 28 unanswered points to tie it.