For the third time this season, the Seattle Seahawks battled the San Francisco 49ers, and for the second time, the Seahawks won, but this game had far bigger implications than the previous two, obviously. With the win, the Seattle is headed to its second Super Bowl appearance.
On the AFC side of championship weekend, we saw one team jump out early and walk away. That wasn’t the case between these two bitter division rivals. Seattle trailed for three quarters before connecting on a 35-yard touchdown on a fourth and 7. The play gave Seattle a 20-17 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
All in all, the NFC championship game was everything anyone could want in a conference title game. The defenses were staunch, and it was a typical smash mouth game. Everything was perfect except for a couple of officiating errors that may have had an impact on the outcome of the game.
Before the Seahawks took the lead, they were given the ball on a punt in which they quite clearly roughed the kicker. Instead of a 15-yard penalty, however, Gene Steratore identified the foul as the five yard “running into the kicker” variety. San Francisco declined the penalty because it wouldn’t have resulted in a first down.
A later error gave allowed the Seahawks to retain possession of the ball on a goal line fumble. That one mattered less because Seattle failed to convert the ensuing fourth and goal from the one yard line.
In the end, it was Seattle’s defense, the same group that had elevated them all season, that came up with the big stop. The combination of pitting the Broncos’ number one offense against the Seahawks’ top ranked pass defense creates a game that could be a shootout or a game that could actually turn into a low scoring affair. We know the Super Bowl will be a clash of two styles, but there’s no way of knowing which style will win out in the end.
Obviously the Seahawks will have to play better to beat the Broncos in the big game. They went an astounding zero for three in red zone attempts against the 49ers. Usually, that would have been enough to end their hopes of winning the NFC title, but the 49ers were only able to score on one of three attempts inside the Seahawks 20-yard line. If there’s one thing Seattle has to do to have a chance to beat the Broncos, it’s to score plenty of points, and the 23 they posted against San Francisco may not be enough to get the job done in two weeks.