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Seahawks advance to Super Bowl XLVIII with 23-17 win over 49ers
The Seahawks are Super Bowl bound.
It took a fourth-down touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse and a tipped pass in the other end zone in the fourth quarter with 22 seconds left, but the Seahawks defeated the defending NFC Champion 49ers in the NFC Championship game 23-17 at CenturyLink Field on Sunday to give them a spot in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2.
The 2013 Seahawks, who matched the franchise-best 13-3 record posted by the 2005 team during the regular season, have now equaled that team’s performance in the postseason by winning two playoff games at home to advance to the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks took their first lead of the game with 13:44 left in the fourth quarter, and it came on fourth-and-7 as Wilson launched a pass into the end zone for a 35-yard TD pass to Kearse, who had tight coverage from the 49ers’ Carlos Rogers.
On the sixth play of the 49ers’ ensuing series, Cliff Avril slapped the ball from Colin Kaepernick’s hand and Michael Bennett recovered the fumble to give the Seahawks a first down at the 49ers’ 6. But Marshawn Lynch fumbled on fourth down and Michael Robinson recovered, but the 49ers got the ball.
The Seahawks got the ball right back, at the 49ers’ 40, when All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor intercepted Kaepernick’s pass that was intended for Anquan Boldin. Chancellor’s pick set up a 47-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that extended the Seahawks’ lead to 23-17 with 3:37 left. Read
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But it took a tip of a Kaepernick pass in the end zone by Richard Sherman that linebacker Malcolm Smith picked off with 22 seconds left to ice it.
The Seahawks got the ball to start the game, but their possession lasted one play as Aldon Smith got to Russell Wilson for a fumble-forcing sack that gave the ball to the 49ers at the Seahawks’ 15. But the defense did its job, holding the 49ers to a 25-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 12:45 left in the quarter. Bobby Wagner stopped Michael Crabtree on a 2-yard gain on a second-down pass and then tackled Colin Kaepernick after a 4-yard gain on third-and-6.
The 49ers’ defense ran its scoreless streak to 48 minutes by blanking the Seahawks in the first quarter, as the 49ers shutout the Panthers for the final 33 minutes last week.
The 49ers had scored one TD in 22 possessions against the Seahawks in their two regular-season games, but got this TD on their third possession of the game.
On the ensuing possession, Russell Wilson’s 51-yard pass to Doug Baldwin gave them a first down at the 49ers’ 11. But they had to settle for a 2-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that made it 10-3 with 5:47 left in the half. Wilson was 3 of 5 for 62 yards, with two of the completions to Baldwin for 58 yards, on the nine-play, 62-yard drive.
After the defense forced its first three-and-out of the game, the Seahawks drove to the 49ers 38, but Wilson’s fourth-down pass went off the hands of Golden Tate.
Mike Iupati, the 49ers’ Pro Bowl left guard, was lost to an ankle injury on the play where Dixon scored.
The Seahawks’ offense needed something after producing 126 yards in the first half, and Lynch provided it with his 40-yard scoring run into the south end zone – above which Macklemore and Ryan Adam performed at halftime – setting off a celebration that made the press box at CenturyLink field vibrate.
But the 49ers then drove 83 yards in six plays to regain the lead on Kaepernick’s 26-yard TD pass to Anquan Boldin, who made the catch in the end zone against All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. On back-to-back plays, Kaepernick completed a 22-yard pass to Michael Crabtree and ran for 22 yards.