The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC title and earn their ticket to Super Bowl XLIX. Seattle won 28-22 in a game that saw the Packers pull out to a commanding early lead, going into the half-time break 16-0. Seattle gained traction, however, scoring touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to close the gap. The Seahawks will face the winner of Sunday’s AFC title game the New England Patriots on Feb. 1 in The Super Bowl XLIX to be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Seattle looked dismal in the first-half, but down 19-7 late in the fourth quarter they scored 15 points in 44 seconds with quarterback Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch running in touchdowns, the latter after a successful onside kick.
Then in overtime Wilson, who had thrown four interceptions, found receiver Jermaine Kearse with a beautiful 35-yard touchdown pass, which Kearse caught despite being closely marked by Tramon Williams, to win the game.
An emotional Wilson, who looked utterly drained at the end of the match said: “I have been in a lot of games, seen a lot of games in a lot of sports but I think the resilience that this team has unmatchable. To be where we are takes a lot of great plays, ups and downs, a lot of belief and a lot of grit.” Green Bay, who had led 16-0 at halftime, will see this match as a cruel defeat and they will rue their failure to take full advantage of Seattle’s unusually sloppy first-quarter display as head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed: “This defeat is a hard one to swallow,”
This victory highlighted once again the outstanding spirit that Pete Carroll has instilled in the Seahawks as well as the brave and bold decision-making of the coach as nothing had been working for the Seahawks offense but, in the third quarter, a fake field goal was brilliantly executed with holder Jon Ryan finding an open Garry Gilliam with a 19-yard touchdown pass that put Seattle on the scoreboard. This shifted the momentum and the Seahawks rediscovered their rhythm on offence and their intensity on defence as they launched a fourth-quarter assault that the Packers were unable to restrain. When Wilson burst into the end zone from a yard, Carroll made another calculated gamble, opting for an onside kick, and again it came off with receiver Chris Matthews recovering the ball after Brandon Bostick failed to collect a bouncing kick from Steven Hauschka. Seattle sensed blood and with Green Bay’s defence crumbling, Lynch, combining his power and speed to perfect effect, charged into the end zone from 24 yards to put the Seahawks in the lead with 1:25 left on the clock. A subsequent successful two-point conversion made that lead a three-point one, and boy was that an unusual play. Wilson was forced deep and threw optimistically into the corner where tight-end Luke Willson grasped the ball at the second attempt, staggering into the endzone with little attention from the Green Bay defence. The Packers found the strength to force the game into overtime though, quarterback Aaron Rodgers leading them down the field on a seven-play, 48-yard drive, which ended with a 48-yard field goal from Mason Crosby.
Seattle got the ball first in overtime and Wilson, now looking confident and energised, found Doug Baldwin with a 35-yard pass and then followed that with the dramatic game winner to Kearse.
Talk about doing things the hard way!