NFC Championship Review: “No Doubt”

Russell Wilson Jermaine Kearse Seattle Seahawks

These guys never doubted each other.

No doubt.

If you’ve ever watched one of quarterback Russell Wilson‘s press conferences, you’ve more than likely heard him say these words. Yes, it’s cliche. But it also perfectly explains how the Seattle Seahawks were able to overcome a 12-point deficit with less than four minutes left in the game and win their second consecutive NFC Championship. The Seahawks are going back to the Super Bowl. Never have I ever seen a team with so much resiliency.

Let’s face it: the Green Bay Packers completely outplayed Seattle for nearly four quarters. The Seahawks turned the ball over five times. Wilson didn’t complete a pass (to his team, at least) until the end of the second quarter. The offense was unable to get anything going besides a fake field goal that resulted in punter Jon Ryan throwing a touchdown to backup rookie tackle Gary Gilliam. For 56 minutes the Seahawks were dominated.

I remember thinking when the game was over. Wilson and the Seahawks got the ball back down by 12 with good field position and 5:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. But on the first play of the drive, Wilson’s pass went off the hands of wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and landed in the arms of Green Bay’s safety Morgan Burnett. It was Wilson’s fourth interception of the day, the most in a single game in his career. All of those passes were intended for Kearse. Two players having the worst performances of their careers in one of the biggest games of their careers.

But there was still no doubt in this team. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the offense got another opportunity with 3:52 left in the game but no momentum and down 19-7. Then the magic began.

It all started with a 14-yard run by Marshawn Lynch, who quietly had 157 yards on 25 carries. A 20-yard completion to Doug Baldwin got the ball into Green Bay territory, but his failure to get out of bounds kept the clock moving. Following an incomplete pass to Kearse, Lynch caught a pass down the sidelines and appeared to have scored a touchdown. However, a booth review revealed that Beast Mode had stepped out of bounds just inside the 10-yard line. Three straight runs resulted in a Wilson keeper into the endzone that cut the Packers’ lead to 19-14 after the extra point.

With only 2:09 on the clock, though, the Seahawks were forced to attempt an onside kick rather than leaning on their defense to get the ball back. A long shot, but still no doubt.

A brilliant kick by Steven Hauschka popped up in the air and off a Green Bay player. Undrafted receiver Chris Matthews‘ awareness to catch the ball in the air was one of those heads up plays that is rarely seen in such a young player. It was the momentum-shifting play that Seattle was looking for all day long. Suddenly, CenturyLink Field had life and the Seahawks had the ball at midfield with over two minutes and a timeout.

Four plays later Lynch rumbled into the endzone and Seattle had it’s first lead of the day at 20-19. A miraculous two-point conversion to tight end Luke Wilson put the Seahawks up by three with 1:25 to play.

But of course there would be more adversity for this team to overcome. Aaron Rodgers led the Packers down the field and Mason Crosby‘s fifth made field goal of the day tied the game at 22. For a second it felt like Seattle’s improbable comeback that ended in defeat against the Atlanta Falcons in the 2012 playoffs. In that game the Seahawks came back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to take the lead 28-27 with 30 seconds left, only to see Atlanta’s Matt Bryant kick a game-winning field goal that ended Seattle’s playoff run.

But this time the game was tied. While the defense had given up the lead, it still felt like the momentum was on Seattle’s side going into overtime.

Despite how he plays in a particular game, Russell Wilson always seems to shine in the clutch. It’s his short memory and “no doubt” attitude that make him such a valuable player. That ability is what we witnessed on Seattle’s overtime game-winning drive. Two runs by Lynch and two beautiful completions to Baldwin, one on third and seven, put Wilson and the Seahawks 35 yards away from a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

The final play was the epitome of the Seattle Seahawks. It involved a quarterback and receiver that, prior to the play, had failed to connect once throughout the game. Four of the five attempts from Wilson to Kearse ended in an interception. But this organization’s mindset is always on the next play and giving players the opportunity to always compete. It’s a team full of players who want to win for each other and that fully believe in their fellow teammates’ ability to make a play when it matters. It’s a team full of no doubt.

So when Wilson lofted that ball in the air towards the endzone, there was no doubt that Kearse was going to come down with it. For a second year in a row, a deep ball from Wilson to Kearse won an NFC Championship for the Seattle Seahawks.

On the other side of the ball, the defense played fantastic and was able to keep the game within reach even though it seemed over. Despite five takeaways, the Packers were only able to score six points off of those turnovers. Green Bay’s offense started in Seattle territory three times in the first half but the Seahawks held them to three field goals. Two of those field goals came off goal line stands early in the game. Without the defense’s “bend-but-don’t-break” attitude, this game could’ve been over early.

The Seahawks were outplayed by the Packers for the large majority of Sunday’s game, but they would not give up. That belief is what Pete Carroll has instilled in this team and is what has them on the brink of becoming a dynasty. So the next time you hear Russell Wilson say that “there was no doubt” in a press conference, think back to this game and believe what he says.

In case you somehow haven’t seen the highlights of this game, here they are:

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