Owner Paul Allen congratulated the team on what he called “an amazing effort.” Coach Pete Carroll presented the game ball to John Schneider for “being with me every step of the way,” and the team’s general manager was in tears as he accepted it. Macklemore led the players in an impromptu dance to his song “Can’t Hold Us.” Players took turns by position groups poising with the Halas Trophy.
If you thought the on-field celebration was wild after the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship game, you should have been in the locker room at CenturyLink Field.
There was blood (on the knuckles of Pro Bowl center
Because the little team that thought it could, did.
“This is our team, man,” said linebacker
Especially after the way this game started, with 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith forcing Seahawks quarterback
And the plays that led to the Seahawks’ latest – and greatest – comeback in a season where they also overcame second-half deficits against the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers came from so many players.
And Carroll ran through the list with his players gathered around him in the locker room:
“I can’t even explain it in words,” Baldwin said when asked to summarize his emotions. “I might be able to register it and put it in words in a few days. But right now, I can’t even believe this right now. It’s unbelievable.
“But we’ve been doing this all season, so it’s no fluke.”
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“We had a play called, but they jumped offside,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell explained. “So it was a free play for us and we have it built in what we want to do and the guys executed it perfectly. Everybody basically went deep on it, everybody reacted right. It was beautiful.”
It appeared 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers had good coverage on the play, but when asked about that Kearse said, “I didn’t feel like that.”
Hauschka kicked three field goals – three more field goals, for the second week in a row, to give him 39 in 41 attempts this season. Wilson was 16 of 25 for 215 yards, with the TD pass and no interceptions, for a 104.6 passer rating.
And then there was the defense, from start to finish. The concern all week had been how the Seahawks would score enough points to defeat a 49ers team that had averaged 26 points during the eight-game winning streak which had delivered them to a third consecutive NFC title game.
The defense supplied the answer: By not letting the 49ers score.
All-Pro strong safety
“Boldin wasn’t my guy, I was the underneath dropper,” Chancellor said. “I knew what route was coming, but I couldn’t see the quarterback and he couldn’t see me. So the last thing he thought was that I could get underneath that route. The last time we played them they ran that route, but I didn’t get under it. So this time, it happened, I saw the ball in the air and I made a play.”
“We wanted to be this situation where the game was on our backs.”
A few lockers away, Avril added, “Michael was saying during the game, ‘Hey, we’re a tag-team. You get the fumble and I recover.’ It’s crazy. Mike B is a heckuva ball player. I’m honored to play next to him and we just feed off each other. We know how to play off each other real well. It’s great.”
And then, finally, there was Sherman’s tip of a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the back corner of the end zone that Smith intercepted with 22 seconds to play. It was only the second time the entire game that Kaepernick tested Sherman.
“Our defense, we stood up when it counted,” Sherman said. “Our team, we’re a tight-knit family, especially in the back end. One of our goals coming into this season was to make it to this game; to make it is just unbelievable. I really can’t put it into words. Every ounce of your energy, every moment spent watching film has been worth it, because we made it. It’s fantastic.”
Put it all together and it made for a championship effort in what was one heckuva game to determine the NFC Championship.
How impressive was the Seahawks’ performance before a CenturyLink Field-record crowd of 68,454?
And because the Seahawks got in the last few punches, they’re heading to the Super Bowl for the second time in their 38-year history.
Asked what was going through his mind as he took a knee to let the final seconds tick off after the Sherman-to-Smith interception, Wilson went back to something his late father once told him that he in turn told the team earlier this season.
“When I was younger,” Wilson said, “he used to always say, ‘Russ, why not you?’ So I kind of translated that to, ‘Why not us?’ ”
Why not, indeed.