|The Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman celebrates with fans after reaching the Super Bowl on Sunday. (AP-Yonhap News)|
Seattle’s top-ranked defense forced three fourth-quarter turnovers, and Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down for the winning points in a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC title Sunday.
Seattle will meet Denver (15-3) for the NFL title in two weeks in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It’s the first trip to the big game for the Seahawks (15-3) since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.
The conference champs had the best records in the league this year, the first time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl since the 2010 game.
Moments after Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s pass to teammate Malcolm Smith for the clinching interception, the All-Pro cornerback jumped into the stands behind the end zone, saluting the Seahawks’ raucous fans. With 12th Man flags waving everywhere, and “New York, New York” blaring over the loudspeakers, CenturyLink Field rocked like never before.
“That’s as sweet as it gets,” Sherman said.
“This is really special,” added coach Pete Carroll, who has turned around the Seahawks in four seasons in charge. “It would really be a mistake to not remember the connection and the relationship between this football team and the 12th Man and these fans. It’s unbelievable.”
San Francisco (14-5) led 17-13 when Wilson, given a free play as Aldon Smith jumped offside, hurled the ball to Jermaine Kearse, who made a leaping catch in the end zone.
Manning, Broncos sink Pats
DENVER (AP) ― Peyton Manning had an answer for everyone. What’s new?
For Tom Brady. For the New England defense. For anyone who thought he couldn’t win the big one.
|Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning looks to pass on Sunday. (USA Today-Yonhap News)|
Less than three years after being unable to throw a football because of his surgically ravaged neck and nerve endings, Manning will get a chance for his second ring. He’ll try to become the first quarterback to win one with two different teams, at the Meadowlands on Feb. 2 against Seattle or San Francisco, who play later Sunday for the NFC championship.
“It’s very rewarding when you put a lot of hard work into the offseason and the regular season and it pays dividends with a huge win,” Manning said.
After taking the final knee, Manning stuffed the football in his helmet and ran to the 30-yard line to shake hands with Brady. The Indy-turned-Denver quarterback improved to 5-10 lifetime against New England’s QB but 2-1 in AFC title games.
Though Manning threw for 400 yards, it was far from a fireworks show in this, the 15th installment of the NFL’s two best quarterbacks of their generation. Manning set up four field goals by Matt Prater and put his stamp on this one with a pair of long, meticulous and mistake-free touchdown drives in which nothing came cheap.