Fans pose with one another before the game.

Click here for full photo slideshowEDITOR’S NOTE: The initial version of this

Click here for full photo slideshow

EDITOR’S NOTE: The initial version of this story included the word “upset” in the headline. It was written by Kelton Sears, who tells me “I thought ‘upset’ was just, like, a sports word for winning. The Panthers were probably really upset that they lost, right?” It’s an adorable mistake, when you think about it. Still, apologies for the confusion. – Matt Driscoll

The Seattle Seahawks dominated the Carolina Panthers 31-17 Saturday night in Seattle to advance to the NFC Championship game for the second consecutive year.Quarterback Russell Wilson and safety Kam Chancellor carried the team easily past the Panthers. Wilson threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns with three separate receivers. Doug Baldwin went first, catching a 16-yard pass in the first quarter. Jermaine Kearse followed in the second quarter, pulling down a 63-yard bomb, while Luke Willson finished off Wilson’s night with a 26-yard pass in the fourth.

The effort resulted in Wilson’s second-highest passer rating of his career to date, at 149.2But it was Chancellor’s spectacular late-game pick that sealed the game, sending the 68,000+ CLink crowd into an absolute frenzy. The safety made an excellent read on Carolina’s quarterback Cam Newton, cleanly picking the ball from the air and returning it 90 yards to the end zone (a new post-season record).

The Hawk’s game-play was a marked change from the ground-heavy, Beast-Mode centric style that has largely carried the team into the NFC-top seed during the regular season. A vigorous Carolina defense was largely to blame, keeping the Hawks’ total rushing stats to only 100 yards combined. The Panthers came to Seattle as significant underdogs, making it into the playoffs with an underwhelming 7-8-1 regular season record. They beat the Arizona Cardinals in last week’s wildcard race (though depending on who you ask that wasn’t entirely a fair match up). Despite the long odds, the team still managed to put together a decent showing. Quarterback Cam Newton threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns on 36 attempts with 23 completions. Running back Jonathan Stewart impressed as well, bouncing off Seahawk defenders for 70 yards.

Yet Carolina couldn’t seem to keep the ball in their possession long enough to do any further damage. The team repeatedly fell victim to a sharp Seattle defense as the Hawks forced three turn overs (one fumble, two interceptions). On two of those three Seattle managed to convert the opportunity into more points on the board.Combine it all together and you’re left with the eighth consecutive post-season win at home.

The Seahawks will face either the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers next weekend in Seattle. The Hawks beat Green Bay in regular season play, 36-16, but fell to Dallas in week six, 30-23, at home.

Mark Formanczyk of Puyallup takes a selfie in front of a 12th-man van before the game.

Fans walk to Century Link stadium before the game.

Fans cheer before the game.

Fans enter the stadium before the game.

An assortment of flags hang ready to purchased outside the stadium.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee snaps a photo of the Seahawk before the game.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee snaps a photo of the Seahawk before the game.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll laughs during pre-game practice.

A Panthers fan readies her sign for action before the game.

Panthers’ backup quarterback Derek Anderson surveys the Seattle home crowd before taking the field.

Seagals cheerleaders perform before the game.

Hawks receiver Doug Baldwin does his trademark ‘flight’ onto the field.

Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch pumps the crowd up as he enters the field before the game.

A Panther fan cheers on his team as the game begins.

Panthers running backJonathan Stewart picks up 5 yards on the ground in the first quarter.

Seattle defenders pile onto Panthers’ running back Jonathan Stewart as he runs for 4 yards in the first quarter.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton scrambles right for a 4 yard gain in the first quarter.

A Seattle defender lays a hit on Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton in the first quarter. Newton threw an incomplete on the play.

Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch powers upfield in the first quarter for a gain of 6 yards.

Seahawks fans cheer the team on during the first quarter.

Seahawks’ receiver Jermaine Kearse pulls down a deep, 33-yard pass in the first quarter.

Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert rumbles upfield for a 16-yard gain in the first quarter.

Players rush to grab a Cam Newton fumble in the first quarter.

Fans celebrate after Doug Baldwin’s first-quarter touchdown.

Seahawks’ defensive tackle Tony McDaniel holds up his recovered fumble in celebration after the play in the first quarter.

Seahawks’ receiver Doug Baldwin struggles to gain extra yards on an 11-yard pass play in the first quarter.

Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams picks up 8 yards in the second quarter.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin catches a 16-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, putting the Seahawks up 7-0.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin catches a 16-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, putting the Seahawks up 7-0.

Seattle receiver Paul Richardson rerturns the ball 26-yards in the second quarter following a kick-off.

Marshawn Lynch tries to escapes the Carolina defense on a no gain run in the second quarter.

Seahawks’ receiver Jermaine Kearse secures possession of his 63-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Jermaine Kearse turns upfield on en route to the end zone for his 63-yard touchdown pass.

Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart picks up a gain in the second quarter.

Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart picks up a gain in the second quarter.

A Hawks’ fan poses for the camera during the second quarter.

Cam Newton, Panthers quarterback, releases an incomplete pass in the second quarter.

Panthers’ wide-receiver Jerricho Cotchery catches a pass for an 11-yard gain in the second quarter.

Seagals cheerleaders perform for the crowd of over 68,000 during the two-minute warning in the second quarter.

Players scramble for possession after Carolina fumbled the ball in the second quarter. The ball was ruled dead.

Fans cheer in the second quarter as Carolina keeps their drive alive.

A fan demands more noise as the Panthers face a crucial third and 8 late in the second quarter.

Seattle safety Kam Chancellor stuffs a Panther running back for a 2-yard gain in the second.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman celebrates on the field after shutting down the Panthers late drive to even up the score late in the second quarter.

Richard Sherman helps to push an end-zone catch by a Panthers’ receiver out of bounds in the second quarter.

Panthers’ kicker Graham Gano completes a 35-yard field goal to end the second quarter at 10-7 Seattle.

Seattle receiver Paul Richardson struggles to fend off a Panther receiver in the third quarter. Richardson was injured on the play and did not return in the game.

Panther running back Jonathan Stewart runs for no gain in the third quarter.

Panthers tight end Ed Dickson picks up 14 yards in the third quarter.

Fans cheer in the third quarter.

Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton eyes a reciever while under pressure. Newton overthrew for an incomplete.

Wearing a giant SuperBowl ring hat, a fan attracts attention for selfies with other members of 12th man nation.

Seattle fans crowd the frame as a lone Carolina fan smiles weakly in the background.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambles for a 14-yard gain in the third quarter.

Marshawn Lynch breaks free of several Panther defenders for a 25-yard gain in the third quarter.

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch picks up 7 late in the third quarter.

Seahawks’ kicker Steven Hauschka starts off the fourth quarter with a 37-yard field goal, putting the Hawks up 17-10.

A Panther defender keeps Hawks receiver Jermaine Kearse from taking home a deep pass in the third quarter.

Dressed in a giant Hawks helmet, a fan cheers on the team in the fourth quarter.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman pumps up the crowd during the fourth quarter.

Determined to stay in play, a Panthers running back tries some fancy-footwork for an 8-yard gain in the fourth quarter.

Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton argues a call with a referee in the fourth quarter.

A fan holds up a “we are 12” towl in the fourth quarter.

Luke Willson runs upfield for a 29-yard gain in the fourth quarter.

Seattle tight end Luke Willson reaches the endzone on a 25-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Seattle’s Bruce Irvin strikes a pose after sacking Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the fourth quarter.

Fans cheer in the fourth quarter.

The SeaHulk cheers the team on in the fourth quarter.

Estatic fans react to Kam Chancellor’s game-ending interception in the fourth quarter.

Kam Chancellor runs a pick back for a touchdown against the Panthers in last year’s playoffs. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Panthers players celebrate after tighten Ed Dickson caught a 15-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Fans cheer wildly after Kam Chancellor’s game-ending interception in the fourth quarter.

Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin is downed for a 28-yard gain late in the fourth quarter.

Players from both teams participate in the post-game prayer circle on the field after the game.

Richard Sherman waves to the crowd as he exits the field after his win.

Richard Sherman waves to the crowd as he exits the field after his win.

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