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The Most Iconic Images from the NFL's Conference Championships

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIJanuary 20, 2014

The Most Iconic Images from the NFL's Conference Championships

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    The stage is finally set for Super Bowl XLVIII, as the Denver Broncos will be taking on the Seattle Seahawks.

    Peyton Manning showed everyone he can step up in big games after throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-16 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. The Broncos defense stepped up as well, frustrating Tom Brady and holding the Patriots to just 320 total yards.

    The Seahawks played in a thriller against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, winning 23-17. In just his second professional season, Russell Wilson threw for 215 yards and a 35-yard go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown to lead his team to the grandest stage of them all.

    Super Bowl XLVIII will pit the league's best offense against the league's best defense, not to mention a quarterback legend against an emerging star. Will Manning cement his legacy as the greatest ever with his second Super Bowl ring, or will Wilson and the NFL's most ferocious defense become legends in Seattle?

    With just one game remaining in the NFL season, let's take a look at some of the most memorable pictures from Championship Sunday. Each image encompasses an aspect from each contest that resonated the most with fans and made a big impact on the overall tone of the matchup.

    These photos provide fans with another perspective of each team's journey from Championship Sunday from the opening snap to the final whistle and beyond. 

Peyton Manning Bobbles the Snap

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Early in the first quarter, Peyton Manning bobbled the snap for several seconds. He finally got a hold of the ball, then completed the pass to Eric Decker for seven yards and a first down.

Demaryius Thomas Catches Touchdown Pass

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas catches a three-yard pass from Peyton Manning for the touchdown. The score put the Broncos up 20-3 in the third quarter and helped seal their fate as AFC champions.

Tom Brady Sacked

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    On 4th-and-3 in the third quarter with the Patriots down 20-3, Terrance Knighton sacked Tom Brady to give the Broncos the ball once again.

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady Shake Hands

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    The two quarterbacks meet briefly on the field at the end of the game. The win for Manning evens his record against Brady at 2-2 during the postseason, while Brady still holds the overall advantage at 10-5.

Peyton Manning and Media

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    The media swarms Peyton Manning after the win. This will be the fifth time in eight years that the Super Bowl featured a member of the Manning family.

    This will be Manning's third Super Bowl appearance. The other two came in the 2006 and 2009 seasons during his time with the Indianapolis Colts.

John Fox Celebrates with Danny Trevathan

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Broncos head coach John Fox celebrates with Danny Trevathan after the game. Fox is now heading to his second Super Bowl as a head coach, with his first coming in 2003 with the Carolina Panthers.

Manning, Fox and Elway During Post-Game Ceremony

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Peyton Manning, John Fox and John Elway are showered in confetti as the team is presented with the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

Seahawks Fans at CenturyLink Field

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The home of the 12th Man was loud as always during the NFC Championship Game. Listed attendance was 68,454, a CenturyLink Field record.

Russell Wilson Fumbles Ball

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    On the very first play of the game, Aldon Smith strips Russell Wilson. The 49ers recovered and went on to kick a 25-yard field goal to go up 3-0.

NaVorro Bowman Carted off Field

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    After having his leg caught under an opposing player in the fourth quarter, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman was carted off the field. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said the preliminary assessment of the injury is a torn ACL

Jermaine Kearse Catches Go-Ahead Touchdown

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    With the Seahawks down 17-13, Russell Wilson found Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown on 4th-and-7 to give Seattle its first lead of the game.

Malcolm Smith Seals Game with Interception

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    With less than 30 seconds remaining, Richard Sherman was able to deflect a pass to Malcolm Smith to officially send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

Russell Wilson Ends Game on Kneel-Down

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Russell Wilson celebrates on the final play of the game. In just his second year, Wilson will be leading the Seahawks to their second-ever Super Bowl appearance.

Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh Meet After the Game

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Head coaches Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, who have a checkered history, exchanged some words on the field after the game. Carroll will be going to his first Super Bowl as an NFL head coach.

Russell Wilson Hoists George Halas Trophy

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    Russell Wilson is greeted to cheers from the 12th Man as he hoists the George Halas Trophy for the Seahawks.

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