The Seattle Seahawks are back in the Super Bowl.
And yet, somehow, the defending champions still found a way to prevail, with assistance from the Packers, and secured their spot in the Super Bowl in two weeks in Arizona.
Seahawks 28, Packers 22 in overtime was one to remember. It included Aaron Rodgers playing on basically one leg and Richard Sherman playing with basically one arm. It included a fake field goal for a Seattle touchdown. It included a lucky recovery of an onside kick by the Seahawks and a perhaps-even-luckier successful two-point conversion pass. It included Rodgers calmly leading a tying field goal drive at the end of regulation, then never getting back on the field. It ended with Wilson, after persevering through a mostly dreadful passing performance, making an outrageously accurate throw for the game-winning touchdown.
One major storyline, obviously, was Wilson. He had his first four-interception game in the NFL. He had a passer rating of 44.3. He played poorly for most of the game and his receivers did him no favors. But he nevertheless has a chance to be a two-time Super Bowl winner three seasons into his career. His throw to wideout Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown in overtime was as good as it gets.
Another significant storyline was the could-have-beens for the Packers. They turned two early turnovers by the Seahawks into only a pair of field goals. On each of them, Coach Mike McCarthy opted against a fourth-down try at a touchdown from the 1-yard line.
Green Bay was fooled badly on a touchdown pass by Seattle holder Jon Ryan (to that point, the Seahawks’ most effective passer on the day) out of field goal formation in a situation in which the Packers probably should have suspected that a fake was at least possible.
Green Bay’s Brandon Bostick not only failed to make a relatively routine recovery of Seattle’s key onside kick, but he also got in the way of sure-handed Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson being able to grab the ball on the play. The Green Bay defense watched Wilson’s moon-ball of a throw on the two-point conversion somehow result in a completion. That meant that the Packers’ field goal at the end regulation only tied the game rather than won it.
Rodgers did about all he could as he limped around on his injured calf. But the Packers made plays to lose the game while the Seahawks made plays to win it.
If the Seahawks repeat as Super Bowl champions, it will have taken a blend of good fortune and great play for them to have gotten there.