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Jermaine Kearse the detonator in Seahawks' explosive passing plays

When it comes to explosive plays, no one has been more explosive in the Seahawks’ passing game than Jermaine Kearse. And his 63-yard TD catch against the Panthers on Saturday night was just the latest example of what he brings.

Of all the things Jermaine Kearse has done for the Seahawks' offense the past two seasons, he had never done this.

"I got to fulfill my lifelong dream of diving at the pylon," Kearse said with a smile. "That's the first time I've ever done that."

With the Seahawks, who signed him in 2012 as rookie free agent. At the University of Washington, where he left ranked second in school history in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. At Lakes High School, where he was a two-way starter and prep All-American.

The beginning of his 63-yard touchdown reception in Saturday night's victory over the Carolina Panthers that lifted the Seahawks into Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers wasn't too shabby either, as Kearse caught the ball with his right hand against tight coverage from cornerback Bené Benwikere before his push to the pylon as safety Tre Boston was trying to drive him out of bounds.

It was the longest postseason passing play in franchise history, supplanting the 56-yard TD pass from Dave Krieg to Steve Largent in the 1984 divisional game against the Dolphins in Miami.

But was it the best catch of Kearse's still-developing NFL career? That depends on who you ask, because Kearse has produced a personal highlight video despite limited opportunities in the Seahawks' run-oriented offense.

There was his 35-yard TD catch on a fourth-and-7 play for what proved to be the winning score in the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers last January.

"Fourth quarter. Fourth down. We're down by four. Jermaine goes up the seam to make that catch," fellow wide receiver and in-state product Bryan Walters said. "So that was pretty special."

But then there also was his sure-plays-a-mean-pinball 23-yard TD catch in Super Bowl XLVIII two weeks later where Kearse caught the ball at the Broncos' 18-yard line and spun twice from a total of three Denver defenders on his way to the end zone.

"It's a tough pick, but it's hard to not pick the Super Bowl play," Kearse said.

But then there also was his dive-to-the-pylon play on Saturday night.

"This one's up there now," Kearse said. "I think it's definitely up there with the Super Bowl."

At first glance, Kearse's contributions to the Seahawks' return to the NFC title game were limited: 41 catches for 666 yards and two TDs, including his three-catch, 129-yard performance against the Panthers.

But take a closer look. Fifty-nine percent of his catches (24) have produced first downs. Forty-six percent (19) have come during scoring drives (12 touchdowns and seven field goals). And, 37 percent (15) have been explosive plays, or passes of 16-plus yards. With Kearse, the emphasis is on the plus, as he has receptions of 63, 60, 53, 47, 33 (twice) and 30 yards. So, 47 percent of his explosive plays have been mega-explosive.

"Jermaine makes plays like the one he had Saturday night all the time," Walters said. "So it doesn't even surprise me anymore. It's just like, 'Oh, there he is. He's making plays.' "

When asked if he was doing these kinds of things in his pre-NFL career, Kearse started to answer before pausing.

"I don't know," he said. "Honestly, I don't know. I can't even tell you. It just happens."

And Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is just glad that Kearse is making it happen for his team.

"I think he's become a terrific factor for us, and a guy we really count on," Carroll said. "He's got special playmaking in him. And that was a classic. That was a just impeccable throw and catch and play and finish and the whole thing. You couldn't ask for a better play in football than that one – the throw, the catch, the finish. It was just great."

Carroll even saw this one coming, after Kearse sat out the regular-season finale with a hamstring injury.

"I had said to him in pregame, 'It's good to have you back because I know you're going to do something again,' " he said. "He just does things. He makes cool plays. And he did it again."

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