Super Bowl Bound: Pats Roll, Hawks Narrowly Escape
UNDATED (AP) — It will be the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 49 in Arizona. The Seahawks advanced by pulling off the greatest halftime comeback in conference championship history. The Patriots did it with an old-fashioned blowout.
Russell Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown at 3:19 of overtime to complete the Seahawks' 28-22 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC title game. The Seahawks managed to shake off five turnovers and a 16-0 halftime deficit to reach the Super Bowl for the second straight year.
The Packers led 16-0 until punter and holder Jon Ryan threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Garry Gilliam on a fake field goal with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter. Ryan's toss sparked a comeback that topped the 15-point deficit the Colts overcame in defeating the Patriots in the 2006 AFC championship game.
Seattle continued to trail with just over two minutes remaining in regulation before scoring two touchdowns in a 44 seconds span. Wilson scored on a 1-yard run with 2:09 left, and the Seahawks regained possession at midfield following an onside kick. Marshawn Lynch gave Seattle its first lead on a 24-yard touchdown run that was followed by Wilson's heave to Luke Willson for the two-point conversion, making it 22-19 with 1:25 to play.
Aaron Rodgers engineered a game-tying drive that was capped by Mason Crosby's fifth field goal of the day, a 48-yard kick that forced overtime. Rodgers and the Packers never touched the ball again as Wilson drove the Seahawks downfield for a TD on the first possession of overtime.
Green Bay's secondary was the difference for the first 56 minutes. Free safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix had two interceptions, both coming in the first half. Safety Morgan Burnett recorded two sacks, one interception and a fumble recovery
Wilson shook off an otherwise nightmarish afternoon in which he was just 14 of 29 for 209 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
Lynch torched the Packers' defense for 157 rushing yards, 120 of which came after halftime.
Green Bay had 307 yards against the tough Seattle defense but never reached the end zone after Reggie Cobb grabbed a 13-yard scoring pass from Rodgers on the final play of the first quarter. Rodgers was 19 of 34 for 178 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
The Patriots won the AFC championship as Tom Brady and LaGarrette Blount led their offense in a 45-7 romp over Indianapolis. Brady was 23 of 35 for 226 yards and three touchdowns in reaching the Super Bowl for the sixth time. He hit James Develin, Rob Gronkowski and Nate Solder for TDs before Blount provided the Patriots' last two touchdowns. Blount ran for three scores while amassing 148 yards on 30 carries.
New England added to a 10-point lead by scoring touchdowns on its first four second-half possessions. Brady threw for TDs on the first two possessions before Blount rumbled into the end zone on the last two.
The Colts had just 209 yards of total offense and committed three turnovers in their first conference title game since Andrew Luck joined the team three years ago. Luck was just 12 of 33 for 126 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Pats played shutout ball after Zurlon Tipton's one-yard scoring run late in the first half.
With his sixth Super Bowl berth, Brady surpassed John Elway for the most by a quarterback and tied defensive lineman Mike Lodish for most by any player. Belichick's sixth visit tied him with Don Shula's for most by a coach.
It was the second-most lopsided AFC championship victory ever, topped only by Buffalo's 51-3 laugher against Oakland in 1991.