Seattle beat San Francisco, join Denver in Super Bowl
(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...