SEATTLE — Never doubt the resilience of the Seattle
Plagued by turnovers and outplayed much of Sunday by
Green Bay, the Seahawks staged an improbable comeback and beat
the Packers 28-22 in overtime. Russell Wilson, who struggled
until the final minutes, hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard
touchdown 3:19 into the extra period on the only possession.
The Seahawks became the first defending champion to make the
Super Bowl in 10 years, and will play the winner of the AFC
title game between Indianapolis and New England. How they got
there was stunning.
Seattle (14-4) trailed 19-7 with about four minutes remaining
and had been ineffective on offense all game. Wilson finally put
a drive together with passes to Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch
— initially ruled a touchdown but called back because he stepped
out. Wilson finished with a 1-yard scoring run to cut the lead
to 19-14 with 2:09 left.
Seattle recovered a bobbled onside kick at the 50, and Lynch
sped and powered his way to a 24-yard TD run. Wilson's desperate
2-point conversion pass was hauled in by Luke Willson to make it
Then Aaron Rodgers led the Packers (13-5) to Mason Crosby's
fifth field goal, from 48 yards with 14 seconds to go to force
Seahawks' Jermaine Kearse celebrates after catching the
Then Wilson and Kearse struck, with Kearse — the target on
all four interceptions Wilson threw — beating Tramon Williams on
the winning pass. Kearse caught the winning TD in last year's
conference title win over San Francisco, too.
"Just making the plays at the end and keep believing," said
Wilson, who was overwhelmed and sobbing after the game. "There
was no doubt ... we had no doubt as a team."
Kearse, who has caught touchdown passes in four straight
postseason games, and several other Seahawks leaped into the
stands behind the end zone, saluting the stadium-record crowd of
68,538. Wilson ran through cameramen to jump on Kearse's back,
and defensive end Michael Bennett borrowed a bicycle from a
police officer and rode around the edge of the field saluting
Until the final minutes, there seemed to be no doubt the
Packers were headed to the big game Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona.
Despite All-Pro quarterback Rodgers' injured calf that had him
limping much of the game, Green Bay and its overlooked defense
was carrying the day.
Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws during the second half.
But special teams trickery lifted the Seahawks back into the
game after falling behind 16-0. Their first touchdown came on a
fake field goal when holder Jon Ryan threw 19 yards to tackle
eligible Garry Gilliam in the third quarter. After Wilson made
it 19-14, Chris Matthews recovered the onside kick that Packers
tight end Brandon Bostick couldn't gather.
Lynch, who rushed for 257 yards on 25 carries as the one
consistent offensive force Seattle had, wouldn't be denied with
Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch catches a pass during the second half.
The 16-point comeback was the largest ever in a conference
title game. The Colts defeated the Patriots after trailing 21-6
And after the Packers tied it, Seattle wouldn't be denied in
overtime, winning the coin toss and going 87 yards in six plays.
"It takes everybody and everybody had to contribute to get
that done," coach Pete Carroll said. "It was so much heart, so
much belief today. Somehow, somehow we pulled it out."