LOS ANGELES, January 19, 2014 — The Super Bowl is an entertainment spectacle that often detracts from football. The Pro Bowl is a flag football pickup game. The Conference Title Games are real football. With everything on the line, both conferences prepared to crown the winners of the Lamar Hunt and George “Papa Bear” Halas Conference Championship trophies.
Seattle Seahawks 28, Green Bay Packers 22, OT — The NFC Title Game was a stunner from start to finish. Every life lesson a parent could teach their child can be learned from today’s NFC Title Game. Mason Crosby hit three field goals and Aaron Rodgers threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb as the Packers built a 16-0 halftime lead. Aaron Rodgers was intercepted twice in the first half, but Russell Wilson was picked off three times before the break. The Seahawks also fumbled a punt. The only reason Seattle was even in the game was because twice the Packers faced fourth and goal at the one. Mike McCarthy opted for field goals. Seattle got on the board with a perfectly executed fake field goal with five minutes left in the third quarter. Crosby hit his fourth field goal and Wilson threw his fourth interception with five minutes left in regulation. A couple of those interceptions came off of deflected passes and the Seahawks receivers dropped several passes. The Seahawks were down 19-7 and left for dead.
The defense held and Wilson ran for a one-yard touchdown with 2:10 to play. Seattle needed a miracle and got one with a perfectly executed onside kick. Marshawn Lynch followed with a 24-yard touchdown. On the two-point conversion attempt, Wilson was about to be sacked. He threw a duck across his body across the field that Luke Wilson somehow came down with. The Seahawks led by a field goal but there was still 1:25 remaining.
The Packers took over at their own 22 with all three timeouts left. Rodgers led the Packers to a fourth and four from the Seattle 30 with 19 seconds left. Crosby came in for a 48 yard field goal. With all the pressure in the world on him, Crosby leveled his fifth field goal. The emotional roller coaster between 12-4 teams was tied 22-22 and headed for overtime. This NFC Title Game had everything, but Matt Hasselbeck saying, “We want the ball & we’re going to score.”
Seattle got the ball in overtime at their own 13. On third and seven from the Seattle 30, Wilson went deep to Doug Baldwin for a 35-yard gain. After all day of watching receivers drop balls, the offense came through when it mattered most. On the next play, Wilson went deep to Jermaine Kearse for the 35-yard touchdown to end the game. Rodgers never got the ball in overtime. This was the greatest collapse in Packers playoff history and the greatest comeback in Seahawks playoff history. Seattle is going to their second straight Super Bowl. This was a game for the ages. This game is why we love football.
New England Patriots 38, Indianapolis Colts 7 — The AFC Title Game was expected to be the men against the boys. Despite the Colts hitting Denver in the mouth last week in Denver and causing the Broncos organization to implode, the Colts were still underdogs to New England. Asking them to beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in successive weeks was a lot to ask even though the Jets did a few years ago. The Patriots were expected to win easily, and early on the script played to form. LeGuarrette Blount crashed in for one touchdown after the Colts fumbled a punt. Tom Brady added a short touchdown pass as the Patriots built a 14-0 first quarter lead and were never seriously threatened.
After the Colts capped off a 93-yard drive with a touchdown, New England added a field goal for a 17-7 halftime lead. In the third quarter the Patriots moved 87 yards easily. On third and one from the Colts 16, Brady threw another touchdown pass to make it 24-7 Patriots. As hard rain came down, this game was the Patriots coronation it was expected to be. New England got it back and Brady’s third touchdown pass was a six-yard laser to Rob Gronkowski. With the Patriots up 31-7, the final 20 minutes was just a formality.
Super Bowl XLVIII (48) is set. Kickoff is a little bit after 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, February 1. The game will be played in Glendale, Arizona near Phoenix. The Patriots played the Super Bowl in that stadium seven years ago only to see their perfect season go up in smoke.
The Seahawks had never won a Super Bowl until last year. Now they are looking to be the first team since the 2003-2004 Patriots to win two in a row. Tom Brady is going to his sixth Super Bowl, an NFL record. Bill Bellichick is going to his sixth Super Bowl as a head coach in addition to the two Super Bowls he won as a Defensive Coordinator under Bill Parcells.
New England brings one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. Seattle brings one of the all-time great defenses, the Legion of Boom.
Earlier this season the Patriots were 2-2 and coming off a 27-point thrashing. There was talk of benching Brady, that he was done. Seattle began 3-3 and the talk was that their locker room was divided. Both of these teams showed what makes a champion.
The AFC New England Patriots and the NFC Seattle Seahawks are the 2014-2015 NFL Conference Champions. One more game determines who wins the Vince Lombardi Trophy.