Seattle beat San Francisco, join Denver in Super Bowl

Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:49pm EST
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(Reuters) - The Seattle Seahawks turned up the defensive heat on the San Francisco 49ers to win the National Football League's NFC Championship 23-17 on Sunday and earn a place in next month's Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.

The Seahawks advanced to the NFL title game for the only the second time in their 37-year history, while their fellow top-seeded Broncos sealed their place with a 26-16 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship.

Seattle battled back from a 17-10 deficit midway through the third quarter with 13 unanswered points, roared on by the raucous CenturyLink home fans as the NFL's top-rated defense registered three turnovers in the fourth quarter.

"We threw a tremendous night of defense out there," Seattle coach Pete Carroll told reporters. "We really played great "D", and we needed it down the stretch."

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, a coaching rival of Carroll's dating back to college football days, said it was a great battle.

"I think our guys had tremendous fight," said Harbaugh, whose team fell short of returning to the Super Bowl, where they fell last year 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens. "Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for moving on.

"It was a 15-round fight, right down to the last."

The final turnover snuffed out San Francisco's hopes as linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone that was tipped by cornerback Richard Sherman with 22 seconds left in the game.

The hard-hitting defensive struggle between the NFC West rivals saw each team gaining 308 yards.   Continued...

Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor (31) celebrates with his teammates after making an interception against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports