SEATTLE — The long, cold winter in Green Bay will be longer and colder than ever this year.
On the verge of a thrilling upset on the road and a berth in the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers instead were victims of one of the most stunning collapses in NFL playoff history Sunday. They allowed two touchdowns in the final 2:09 of regulation and lost 28-22 in overtime on Russell Wilson’ 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field.
The unbelievable finish catapulted the to Seahawks into the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz., where Seattle will try to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the New England Patriots after the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
Wilson scored on a one-yard run with 2:09 to play, the Seahawks recovered an onside kick and Marshawn Lynch scored on a 24-yard run with 1:25 to play to give the Seahawks a 22-19 lead. The Packers rallied to tie on Mason Crosby’s 48-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in regulation.
The Seahawks won the overtime coin flip, took the ball and never gave it back. After Wilson was sacked for a one-yard loss to his 30, he threw a 35-yard pass to Doug Baldwin to the Packers 35. On the next play he threw a pass down the middle of the field to a streaking Kearse, who caught the ball as he entered the end zone. He hung on as he fell to the ground, ending one of the most spectacular playoff games ever.
The Packers led 16-0 at halftime and 19-7 with possession with less than five minutes to play after a Morgan Burnett interception at the Packers 43. But the Seahawks forced a punt and drove for a touchdown on Wilson’s one-yard run to cut the Packers lead to 19-14 with 2:09 to play.
The Packers were expecting the onside kick, but tight end Brandon Bostick, mishandled it as he tried to make a leaping grab and Seahawks backup wide receiver Chris Matthews recovered at midfield with 2:07 left.
The Seahawks needed just four plays to score, with Lynch’s 24-yard touchdown run and Wilson’s uncanny pass to tight end Luke Wilson giving the Seahawks a 22-19 lead with 1:25 to go. The two-point conversion was a miracle in itself — as Wilson looked like he was about to get sacked as he rolled to his right, but somehow flinged a pass across the field to Luke Wilson in the front of the end zone.
The Packers drove for Mason Crosby’s 48-yard field goal that tied the game. But if not for that unlikely two-point conversion, it would have been the game-winner.