Packers vs. Seahawks: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2015 NFC Championship

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 18, 2015

AP Images

Russell Wilson wasn't his best Sunday. In fact, he was probably near his worst. But when it came time to save the Seattle Seahawks' season, Wilson got the job done.

The former Pro Bowl quarterback hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown in overtime, completing a historic comeback and sending the Seahawks to the Super Bowl with a 28-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

A game that seemed like an easy Packers win throughout instead became the stage for the biggest comeback victory in conference championship history. Down 16-0 at one point and 19-7 with just over two minutes remaining and one timeout left, the Seahawks needed miracles (plural) to mount a comeback.

The first came via a beautifully floated 26-yard pass from Wilson to Marshawn Lynch that set up a one-yard Wilson touchdown run. The next occurred on the ensuing onside kick, when Packers tight end Brandon Bostick allowed an easy catch to bounce off his head and into the waiting arms of Seattle's Chris Matthews. And then another happened on the Seahawks' two-point conversion attempt after their go-ahead touchdown, when Wilson launched a floating prayer that came down in the arms of Luke Willson.

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18:  Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball in for a touchdown as  Micah Hyde #33 of the Green Bay Packers closes in during the fourth quarter of the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 201
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

That touchdown allowed Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers a heroic moment of his own, as he led the Packers down the field for a game-tying field goal that forced overtime.

But it wasn't to be for the Pack. The Seahawks won the coin toss and needed just six plays to march 87 yards, with Wilson hitting Kearse over the top amid a rocking CenturyLink Field. The win is Seattle's second straight conference championship and leaves open the possibility of the first repeat Super Bowl champion in the last decade.

No one ever would have thought that would be the case during Seattle's nightmare first half Sunday. 

A touchdown underdog and the recipient of a Week 1 beating in the same building, the Packers came into Sunday a battered bunch. Rodgers was dealing with a torn calf muscle, Randall Cobb a reported abdominal injury that kept him in the hospital Saturday night, per Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, and Eddie Lacy a knee injury that had him on the injury report. One could have understood if the Packers were a bit of a mess offensively. 

But the Seahawks' offensive struggles were a feature early on, and they nearly sent Green Bay to Glendale, Arizona. 

Wilson, Seattle's steady commander-in-chief, was anything but for most of Sunday's game. It took him nearly the entire first half to make his first completion to a player wearing a Seahawks uniform, and things rarely went well when he did. He finished with 209 passing yards, all but 12 of which came during the second half and overtime.

Arguably the best Seattle pass before overtime came from punter Jon Ryan, who hit Garry Gilliam on a 19-yard fake field goal touchdown toss.

Wilson was also responsible for four of the Seahawks' five turnovers, setting a career high at the worst possible time. While he saw pressure throughout, his interceptions were largely the product of plain bad decisions.

Wilson twice threw right into coverage when Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had safety help over the top. Another interception cut a potential touchdown drive short when he floated another pick right into the hands of a waiting Sam Shields. The fourth interception was the result of a tipped pass, but it was nonetheless telling that Wilson didn't get to 100 passing yards until midway through the fourth quarter.

It was the exact opposite of a typical Wilson—and for that matter, Seattle—performance. The Seahawks committed eight penalties, couldn't get anything going when they held onto the ball and generally seemed underprepared. All Green Bay had to do was hold fort and avoid screwing things up on the opposite side of the ball.

Whoops.

For as poorly as Seattle's offense played, its defense played nearly that well. The Packers settled for field goals twice inside the 5-yard line, didn't turn any of Wilson's interceptions into touchdowns and coughed the ball up two times themselves. Mason Crosby, who was perfect on five field-goal attempts, was probably Green Bay's most reliable weapon.

Rodgers, noticeably gimpy from the outset, struggled all game to get going. He threw two interceptions and his 178 yards came on 34 attempts, good for only 5.2 a throw. His quarterback rating of 55.8 was the second-worst of his playoff career and just the third time he's been below 90 in a January contest. Rodgers' longest pass completion was 23 yards, and it was his only throw longer than 15 yards. 

The Packers as a team gained 306 yards, a minuscule number for Football Outsiders' top-ranked offense. 

"Our defense sets this team's tone," Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright told Jim Corbett of USA Today on Friday. "Twenty years from now, you can look back on this defense and say, 'Those guys were one of the best.' … It's a defense full of leaders, all-pros and Pro Bowlers, a defense that plays together and for each other."

The Packers found arguably the most success on the ground. Lacy finished with 73 yards on 21 carries, and James Starks busted open a key 32-yard run in the fourth quarter that sparked a field-goal drive. Green Bay's 4.5 yards per carry as a team were a full yard better than Seattle's regular-season rate.

"I think with Eddie Lacy, I don't think there's a lot of people who want to tackle him," Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters during the week. "He's playing at an extremely high level. He's playing the best football of his two-year career. His ability to be a three-down player. He is of primary importance to us and he has delivered."

On the other side, Marshawn Lynch turned in a typically brilliant performance. He rushed for 157 yards, gashing the Packers on read-option looks in particular. His 24-yard touchdown run with 1:25 remaining gave Seattle its first lead of the game and inspired a redux of his not-so-appropriate-for-children touchdown dance. 

Outside the first-half turnovers, the game largely followed an expected template. The second half fell much closer in line with what everyone saw on film, with Seattle slowing down the Green Bay offense and moving the ball in a solid, controlled pace.

The only thing that really went wrong in the final 30 minutes for Seattle was Richard Sherman suffering an arm injury. Sherman's status for the Super Bowl may be the thing the Seahawks have to worry about most over the next two weeks. The Pro Bowler was in obvious pain and received treatment on the sideline after every possession despite staying in the game.

That said, it would be a surprise to see him sit out the Super Bowl with the history of a repeat on the line. 

With Wilson due for a massive new contract after the season, the Seahawks are going to have to make tough decisions about veteran players. Lynch's exit has been rumored, and a number of key contributors are set to hit the open market. Cutting costs to facilitate deals for Wilson, Sherman and Earl Thomas is a reality of the business. This will probably be the deepest this core of players ever is going forward.

In two weeks, we'll get to see whether they take advantage. For now, the Seahawks celebrate as a team whose performance Sunday was historic. If they become repeat Super Bowl champions in two weeks, it will be even more so.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

Related

    Report: Zeke May Hold Out for New Deal

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Report: Zeke May Hold Out for New Deal

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Martavis Bryant Applies for Reinstatement

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Martavis Bryant Applies for Reinstatement

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Players Not in Uniform Banned from Leaving Sideline to Celebrate

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Players Not in Uniform Banned from Leaving Sideline to Celebrate

    Charean Williams
    via ProFootballTalk

    Report: Clowney Won't Get Long-Term Deal

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Report: Clowney Won't Get Long-Term Deal

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report