Seahawks, Patriots book Super Bowl showdown
Super Bowl champions Seattle stunned Green Bay 28-22 in overtime on Sunday to book a return to the NFL championship showcase, where they`ll face the New England Patriots.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson shook off four interceptions and hit Jermaine Kearse with a game-winning 35-yard touchdown pass on the opening possession of the extra period as Seattle rallied for the victory in the National Football Conference title game.
There was no such drama in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where superstar quarterback Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes and LeGarrette Blount rushed 30 times for 148 yards and three TDs as New England routed the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 to win the American Football Conference crown.
The Patriots took charge early, taking a 14-point lead in the first quarter. They broke the Colts with three touchdowns in the third quarter and added another early in the fourth.
Brady reached the sixth Super Bowl of his career -- surpassing the record five reached by John Elway as a starting quarterback.
Now New England will try to prevent the Seahawks from becoming the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Pats themselves repeated 10 years ago.
"Unbelievable game today," Brady said. "My team-mates, I couldn`t be more proud of them. We put a lot of work in, worked our tails off to get to this point. It`s nice to close the deal.
"We`ve got one more to go," he added.
Super Bowl 49 will be played on February 1 in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.
For much of Sunday afternoon, it certainly didn`t look like the Seahawks would get there.
Seattle trailed 16-0 at halftime and 19-7 early in the fourth quarter but scored two touchdowns in less than a minute late in the final period of regulation to keep their repeat dream alive.
"I`m honored to be on this team. We`re going to the Super Bowl again" a tearful Wilson said as he was mobbed on the field.
Wilson`s one-yard touchdown dash with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter pulled the Seahawks within 19-14.
Seattle then recovered the ensuing onside kick, as Steven Hauschka`s effort bounced through the hands and off the helmet of the Packers` Brandon Bostick.
Seattle`s Chris Matthews seized the ball at midfield to launch the Seahawks on a drive capped by Marshawn Lynch`s 24-yard touchdown run and Luke Willson`s catch of a two-point conversion heave from a madly scrambling Wilson.
That gave the Seahawks a 22-19 lead -- their first of the game -- with 1:25 remaining in regulation.
The Packers responded, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers guiding a drive that ended with Mason Crosby`s fifth field goal of the game, a 48-yarder that knotted the score at 22-22 with 14 seconds remaining.
Seattle won the overtime coin toss and Wilson capped their 87-yard opening drive with a textbook toss over the middle to Kearse, whose only catch of the contest was the game-winner.
The Patriots and Seahawks have never met in the post-season. The teams last played on October 14, 2012, when Seattle notched a narrow 24-23 home win.