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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Seattle Seahawks Overcome San Francisco 49ers Stingy Defense In NFC Championship, Sets Up Showdown vs Denver Broncos In Super Bowl 48

                                                                  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    The Seattle Seahawks knew they were going to be up for a challenge when they had to face the San Francisco for a third time this season in the NFC Championship Game! The 49ers Defense had 9.0 Sacks, 2 Interceptions, and 2 Forced Fumbles in its first two playoff games. On the very first possession of the game, 49ers Linebacker Aldon Smith strip sacked Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson and recovered the loose ball! Seattle would hold its own, but not before the 49ers came away with three points on a Phil Dawson Field Goal (FG) to give San Francisco an early 3-0 lead.

     The San Francisco Defense continued its dominating approach by forcing Seattle to a 3 & out on their following possession. On the next Seahawks possession following their 3 & out, Seattle's drive came to end when NaVorro Bowman sacked Russell Wilson for a loss of 11, thus forcing Seattle to punt. Seattle appeared to have forced San Francisco to a 3 & out, but a holding penalty on Defensive Back Richard Sherman gave the 49ers a fresh set of downs. The penalty proved costly as QB Colin Kaepernick made carries the ball twice on the next two plays for 70 yards (the 2nd going for a career long of 58) setting up the 49ers at the 10. Anthony Dixon would finish off the drive with a 1 yd TD run (or rather jump over the line) on 4th & Goal, increasing the 49ers lead to 10-0. 

     Seattle appeared as if it were going to come up empty handed again, but a 51 yard pass play from Wilson to Wide Receiver Doug Baldwin set the Seahawks up at the 49ers 11 yd line. But on the first play after the big gain, Wilson was sacked by Dan Skuta. Marshawn Lynch had a 2 yard gain before Wilson threw an incomplete pass, forcing Seattle to settle for a FG despite the big play a few plays prior. Steven Hauschka connected from 32 yards out, cutting San Francisco's lead to 10-3 and would remain that way heading into the half.

     San Francisco would receive the ball to start the 2nd Half, and Seattle needed to stop the 49ers offense from putting anymore points on the board, or else they would find themselves in a deep hole! The Seahawks Defense would hold and on the ensuing possession would only need four plays to score! Marshawn Lynch put on the jets and ran it all the way into the end zone for a 40 yd TD run, as the Seahawks would tie the game and have the momentum (for the short time being) in their favor.

     Following the Seattle TD, Colin Kaepernick had a passing and running play each going for 22 yards. Kaepernick then made an amazing play as he scrambled out of the pocket near the sideline and hit Anquan Boldin in the back of the end zone for a TD and quickly regained the lead for San Francisco 17-10.

     Seattle again would have great field position, this time after a Doug Baldwin kickoff return setup the Seahawks at the San Francisco 33 yard line. But Seattle would end up being held to another FG by the 49ers defense with plays resulting in a loss of yardage and a false start penalty that cost them five yards. Seattle's Defense would make up for its TD it gave up on San Francisco's last drive by forcing the 49ers to a 3 and out on its ensuing possession.

    Seattle had a very interesting sequence of events on its own ensuing possession! Russell Wilson was called for Intentional Grounding (who already may have gotten away with one before earlier) making it 3rd and 22 at midfield. On the next play Wilson hit Tight End Zach Miller for a 15 yard pickup that put Seattle back into FG range. However, after bringing the kicking unit onto the field, Seattle called a timeout and afterwards the offense came back on and the Seahawks would end up going for it instead. Prior to the snap, Aldon Smith jumped offsides, giving Seattle a free play, but ended up not needing it anyway as Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35 yd TD pass and gave the Seahawks its first lead of the game 20-17! The next three possessions (San Francisco 2 Seattle 1) each ended up with a turnover!

     Colin Kaepernick would be strip sacked by Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett returning it for 17 yards to the San Francisco 6. A penalty cost the Seahawks five yards, but Seattle would get it down to the one on 4th & Goal. Seattle declined to kick the FG, ended up going for it, but Marshawn Lynch mishandled the hand-off causing a fumble and a turnover on downs. But just two plays later, Kaepernick threw a passed intended for Boldin that ended up getting picked off by Kam Chancellor. The turnover lead to a FG and gave the Seahawks a 23-17 lead, but with plenty of time left for the 49ers to put together a scoring drive!

     With 3:32 remaining, San Francisco put together a nice drive. A key play came on 4th & 2 when Kaepernick found Frank Gore for a 17 yard pickup. With 3rd & 2 at the Seattle 45, Kaepernick found Michael Crabtree for a gain of 16 and came back on the next play and hooked up with Vernon Davis for 11 yards to the Seattle 18. Kaepernick, on the very next play, went for it all in the corner of the end zone for Crabtree. Richard Sherman got a hand out it and alertly batted the ball into the hands of teammate Malcolm Smith so he could come up with the Interception and seal the deal for the Seahawks as they would come away with the win and the NFC Championship! The Seattle Seahawks will be making its 2nd trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history (lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10 in Super Bowl 40) where they will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48!

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