Seahawks Shutdown Kaepernick, 49ers – Advance To Super Bowl 48
The Seattle Seahawks defense lived up to its billing in the NFC Championship Game, forcing two Colin Kaepernick interceptions and sack-fumble to knock off the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 and advance to Super Bowl 48.
Kaepernick's final pick came in the end zone with just 20 seconds remaining, halting a potential game-winning drive on a deflection by corner Richard Sherman (photo) which was corralled linebacker Malcolm Smith.
Russell Wilson did not throw any interceptions, but was charged with two fumbles including a sack-fumble on the first play of the game. He finished 16 of 25 for 215 yards and touchdown.
That TD pass came on a bizarre sequence that saw Seattle's kicker, Steven Hauschka, standing with an aimless stare on his face in the middle of the field prior to what would have been a 53 field goal attempt on fourth-and-seven. But Pete Carroll called a timeout and opted to go for it, resulting Wilson's 35-yard strike to Jermaine Kearse.
Marshawn Lynch had Seattle's other score, a typical Marshawn Lynch style you-can't-tackle-me 40 yard run that tied the game at 10-10 in the third quarter. Lynch had 22 carries for 109 yards on the day.
Doug Baldwin was Wilson's favorite target of the day, catching six for 106.
For the 49ers, Kaepernick was the only threat and did most of his damage on the ground, scooting out of the backfield eleven times for 130 yards. In the air, he was just 14 of 24 for 153 and a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. Boldin and Michael Crabtree combined for nine receptions and 105 yards. Vernon Davis was virtually shutout - two catches and 16 yards - while Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter combined for 30 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
Anthony Dixon got San Fran's rushing score, a leap over the pile on fourth and goal at the half-yard-line after his third and goal leap on the previous play came up short. Those were his only two carries of the game, but were good enough to give his team a 10-0 second quarter lead.
In another odd sequence in the fourth quarter, linebacker NaVorro Bowman suffered a gruesome leg injury on what appeared to be an interception or strip and recovery on a Seattle third and goal inside the five-yard-line. The play ended in a dog pile with Bowman letting go of the ball, after being down by contact, with the officials ruling it a fumble recovered by the Seahawks. The play could not be reviewed because of the official ruling on the field and replays showed the crew clearly got the call wrong.
Bowman was carted off the field and on the next play, Wilson and Lynch fumbled a hand off on fourth and goal. Seattle recovered but lost several yards, resulting in a turnover on downs.
The Seahawks will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48 after Denver toppled the New England Patriots 26-16 in the AFC Championship Game earlier on Sunday.