It was a tale of two completely different games as the National Football League playoffs took the penultimate step on the road to Super Bowl XLIX. The NFC and AFC Conference Championship games have been run and won, and through results that could not have been more disparate, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots will now face off to determine who takes home the Vince Lombardi Trophy for season 2014-15.
On the NFC side of the ledger, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in playoff history to down an extremely spirited Green Bay Packers outfit who was comprehensively on top for the majority of the match, except when it mattered, with the final score after overtime standing at 28 – 22.
Following a wild first half that saw Wilson complete just 1 of 8 pass attempts, and the infamous Seattle defence being picked apart at will by league MVP favourite Aaron Rodgers, the ‘Hawks found themselves on the wrong end of a 19-7 deficit with 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
What followed was a remarkable series of events, culminating in Seattle putting two touchdowns on the board in the space of 44 seconds, thanks to Wilson’s accuracy – missing all game through a postseason-record 4 interceptions – suddenly returning, and a blown onside kick recovery by Packers’ tight end Brandon Bostick.
Though the comeback appeared in jeopardy as Aaron Rodgers masterfully marched the ball down the field into Seahawks territory as the clock ran thin, the game was forced into overtime thanks to a 48 yard Mason Crosby field goal. And that was all the opportunity the Seahawks needed. Poor defensive playcalling by the Packers left the secondary in one-on-one coverage, and a 35 yard Wilson touchdown pass to Jermaine Kerse – the longest scoring play of the night – completed the remarkable turnaround and punched the defending champions’ ticket to their second successive Super Bowl.
Meanwhile in Foxborough, almost the complete opposite took place, as Tom Brady and his Patriots simply and totally outgunned Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to take out the AFC Championship for the first time since 2011-12, earning a shot at snapping a decade long drought of Super Bowl success.
The veteran Brady outplayed his young upstart counterpart Luck in every stat count; the up-and-coming, but inexperienced, Colts squad no match for the Pats and their wily head coach Bill Belichick, blowing out Indi 45 – 7.
Brady’s passing arm was on-point all night, completing 23 of 35 for 226 yards and 3 TDs. Luck on the other hand could only muster 12 of 33 for 126 yard and 2 INTs as the Pats secondary swallowed up Indianapolis’s receivers.
Seattle and New England will now face off for American Football’s biggest prize at Super Bowl XLIX, which takes place on Monday, February 2nd Australian time at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Photo: Tom Pennington via Getty Images.