Russell Wilson holds up the NFC Championship trophy for all the 12s to see. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer Lindgren
A teary-eyed Russell Wilson was swarmed by the media in the middle of CenturyLink Field in Seattle today following the Seahawk’s 28-22 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. The quarterback had just led his team to one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NFL’s championship round by completing a deep bomb to Jermaine Kearse to seal the win and ensure Seattle’s second trip to the Super Bowl in as many years. The moment was overwhelming.
“God is too good” he told a reporter, tears smudging his eyeblack in a show of emotion uncommon for the unflappable quarterback. As the fans roared in exultant euphoria, he went on to thank his team for the most unlikely of victories. “These guys never stopped believing in me…. I’m honored and blessed to be on this team.”
Just a half hour earlier the mood in the stadium was much more subdued, morose even, as the top-seeded team trailed the second-seeded Packers by a score of 19 to 7. With 5 minutes and 13 seconds left, Wilson had seemingly squandered a potential comeback when a pass intended for Kearse was tipped and ended up in the arms of Packers defensive back Morgan Burnett. It was Wilson’s fourth interception of the game, a career high for the third year quarterback, who ended the game with 209 yards passing and another 25 yards on the ground.
The team’s five total turnovers, including one fumble by Doug Baldwin on a kick-off return, had helped the Packers keep control throughout the first half, after which they had a 16-0 lead, and well into the second half. But the Seahawk’s defense, which held the backers to field goals twice inside the ten yard line, put the clamp down on the Packers in the second half, holding them to a field goal.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that the Seahawks finally got on the board with a faked field goal, resulting in a 19 yard touchdown pass from holder, and usual punter, John Ryan to Garry Gilliam. It would be another full quarter before the team would strike again, capping a 69-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Russel Wilson, who broke the plane with a here 2 minutes and 9 seconds remaining. On the ensuing kick-off, the Seahawks recovered an onsides kick and Wilson again went to work. Four plays later, Marshawn Lynch trotted into the endzone for a 24-yard touchdown, subtly grabbing his crotch and likely earning a fine from the league. Wilson then completed the 2-point conversion with a toss-up to tight end Luke Willson, giving the Seahawks the three point lead and unleaching pandemonium amongst the Seahawks’ faithful.
With just over a minute left, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers drove his team 58 yards and kicker Mason Crosby booted a 48-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.
But after winning the coin-toss, the Seahawks continued to roll, driving 87 yards and sending the city into spasms of joy when Kearse landed in the endzone with the ball.
Next stop, Glendale, Arizona on Feb. 1, where Wilson and his Seahawks will face the New England Patriots, who defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship later in the day. There they will attempt to become the first NFL team since 2005 to win back-to-back championships.
View the full slide-show of Sunday’s game here.
Jermaine Kearse with the winning touchdown catch. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer Lindgren
Ricardo Lockette thanks the heavens for the confetti. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer Lindgren