After enduring a miraculous roller coaster ride of emotions, the Seahawks are on their way to Super Bowl XLIX.
Mightily struggling to generate any offensive points in the first three quarters, the Hawks managed to piece together an amazing late-game performance to defeat the Packers 28-22 in overtime. That overtime period ended with a 35 yard connection between quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
Kearse’s game ending catch couldn’t be more exemplary of redemption. Having missed all five of his previous targets, four of which fell into the hands of Packers defensive backs, Russell Wilson threw Kearse’s way once again. Recognizing the bump and run coverage with no help over the top, Wilson gave Kearse a hot route which he executed to perfection. Slipping his man to the inside and running a fly pattern to beat Packers’ cornerback Tramon Williams to the endzone, Kearse proceeded to catch a dime of a throw from Wilson. Overcome with emotion following his efforts, the traditionally soft-spoken Kearse burst into tears.
The victory was comparable to the summary of their entire season in a way; battling to stay afloat at the beginning but reclaiming dominance in the end.
Totaling 46 yards of total offense while turning the ball over on four out of their seven possessions, the Hawks were completely dependent on their defense in the first half. Remaining strong despite the uneven time of possession in which the Packers exceeded the Hawks by seven minutes and twelve seconds at halftime, the Hawks defense had strung together two goal line stands and two interceptions to hold the Packers to just 16 points. For anyone that had witnessed the self-destructive play of the offense in the first half, the 16 point deficit seemed unfitting.
With no points on the board and just under five minutes to go in the third quarter, the Hawks attempted a fake field goal. Former tight end and current lineman Garry Gilliam caught a 19 yard pass thrown by punter Jon Ryan. The play gave hope to a potential super bowl berth, but on the first play of their second drive of the fourth quarter, Wilson threw his fourth interception. It appeared as if the possibility to reclaim their NFC Championship title was fading, but one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history was in the works.
After forcing a crucial Packers’ 3 and out, the Hawks received the ball with just 3:52 left in the final quarter. Four plays into the drive running back Marshawn Lynch caught a pass from Wilson and scampered 35 yards for a touchdown. But after further review the officials marked Lynch out at the nine yard line. The Hawks then managed to score on third down with one yard to go, on a quarterback option play in which Wilson kept the ball and rushed in for a touchdown.
Down by a score of 14-19 with only two minutes and nine seconds remaining, the Hawks attempted an onside kick. The onside kick ricocheted of Packers tight end Brandon Bostick and into the hands of Hawks wide receiver Chris Matthews. One play after the two minute warning, Lynch ran 24 yards for a touchdown, giving the Hawks a one point lead.
Ahead by only one point following the touchdown, the Hawks needed to attempt a two point conversion in order to go up by a field goal. On their two point conversion attempt, the pocket collapsed and Wilson struggled to find an open receiver before scrambling backward in his efforts to avoid being sacked. But, at the last second, Russell heaved a pass out of desperation and tight end Luke Willson was able to secure the ball for what would prove to be a necessary two points.
Orchestrating two sequential touchdown drives that took a miniscule two minutes and 28 seconds, Wilson lead the Hawks to overtime, where they would pull of an incredible victory to secure back to back super bowl appearances.
Exuding an incredible sense of resiliency in order to comeback, the Hawks victory was simply outstanding. As a result they have now earned consecutive NFC Championship titles and remain a force to be reckoned with as they now face the New England Patriots in Glendale on Feb 1.