Seattle's comeback still hard to fathom
RENTON, Wash. — A day later, it was still hard to fathom how the Seattle Seahawks are headed for their second straight Super Bowl.
Even for those directly involved in Seattle's stunning comeback to win the NFC title.
"A little bit," said wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who caught the winning 35-yard touchdown in overtime of Seattle's 28-22 win over Green Bay.
"But the type of guys that we have in our locker room is a bunch of different stories of different paths of how people got to where they got.
"You think about all the undrafted guys, you think about the guys that were drafted in the late rounds and rose to the occasion. I feel like our team story is full of adversity and pushing through it and that's what showed."
Just how the Seahawks rallied to stun the Packers was still being comprehended on Monday while Seattle began preparations for its chance at a second straight championship facing New England.
Seattle is keeping the same schedule as last year with three days of practice this week before heading to Arizona on Sunday.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll intends on having most of the game plan in place before the Seahawks leave.
"We do have to get a lot done. This is a very heightened time for us. This is not sit back and take a couple of days. We're going after it," Carroll said. "Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we're game planning and we'll have the game plan in before we leave. That's an old Bill Walsh way.
"That's the way we've always done the bowl games and stuff since we've been doing it. It's a really good way for the coaches and players to focus before the distractions that naturally come up when you get on the road."
Seattle still expects both safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman to be available to play in two weeks even though Carroll did not have results of MRIs on Monday. Thomas separated his shoulder in the first half, but returned before halftime and played with a brace.
Sherman injured his left elbow when his arm was sandwiched between teammate Kam Chancellor and Green Bay's James Starks on the first play of the fourth quarter. Sherman played the rest of the game with his arm pinned against his chest, but while it was obvious Sherman was limited the Packers rarely challenged him.
Rodgers threw at Sherman only once in the fourth quarter.
"Both those guys were in dire straits could they play. They didn't flinch, not for a second," Carroll said. "When they played, they played their hearts out.
"The courage and the toughness and standing up for who they are and what they mean to this team couldn't have been more evident and the willingness to throw their body out there again and try to finish this game and would not allow it to be any other way. It was so impressive. It really was and there were a lot of guys who do that but it was just really symbolic."
According to STATS, Seattle is just the second team to trail by 12 or more points and rally in the final 2:10 of regulation to win. On Dec. 23, 1972, the Cowboys trailed San Francisco 28-16, but scored twice in the final 1:20 to win 30-28.
Seattle's improbable comeback started when it trailed 19-7 after Russell Wilson threw his fourth interception of the game with about five minutes remaining.
But the interception started the chain of events that helped Seattle pull off its rally, beginning with Morgan Burnett's decision to slide down in the open field rather than trying to return the pick as far as possible.
Seattle was able to force Green Bay into a three-and-out with the Seahawks using only two of their timeouts and just 1:12 elapsing off the clock. The Seahawks needed only 1:43 to go 69 yards and score on Wilson's 1-yard touchdown with 2:09 remaining.
Then came the onside kick, which Carroll said Monday gets practiced once a week. Just 44 seconds later, Marshawn Lynch was in the end zone after a 24-yard run and the ensuing 2-point conversion pass from Wilson to tight end Luke Willson, who wasn't supposed to be involved in the original play.
And lastly, on the first drive of overtime, Wilson made a check at the line of scrimmage and recognizing there was no safety in the middle of the field and Kearse had single coverage. All Kearse had to do was win his matchup.
"We're all real grateful that we were a part of it and had the opportunity to be faced with so much adversity and so much of a challenge and see guys really play through it and come through," Carroll said. "It wasn't a one play thing. A lot of stuff had to happen."