Amid the chaos and confetti of the moments immediately after Jermaine Kearse’s 35-yard touchdown catch in overtime beat the Green Bay Packers and sent the Seahawks into the Super Bowl, here is what Seattle’s irrepressible defensive end Michael Bennett did, swiping a bike from a Seattle Police Department officer:
After this video, Bennett stayed on the bike a good five minutes. He even rode down the line of Seahawks’ cheerleaders, slapping their hands.
“I just took it,” Bennett said when asked what the cop said about getting his wheels swiped. “You go to a Super Bowl you can do anything you want in this city.”
What I took for an amazed-sounding locker room: The Seahawks know it sounds corny to outsiders – and they don’t care — but they truly believe their trust in and love for each other is why they rallied today from 19-7 down with 2:09 left to eventually win a game no one in the Northwest will forget.
Here is the top of my game story of a mind-boggling game that was truly super-cool to witness in person. One of the days I realize how fortunate I am to have the job I do:
The team that champions “finish” as more than a mantra but a livelihood pulled off an astounding one to become a champion again.
Now the Seahawks are back in the Super Bowl to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Mired in the worst game of his playoff if not his entire football career following four interceptions — all thrown in the direction of Jermaine Kearse — Russell Wilson made his two best throws his final ones. His 35-yard rainbow perfectly plopped into the arms of Doug Baldwin to get Seattle into Green Bay territory in overtime of this NFC championship game for the ages. His next 35-yard one landed exquisitely into the arms of the kid from Lakewood who had two earlier interceptions go off his hands.
Kearse cradled the redemptive ball and refused to let Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams wrestle it from him as they fell onto the “W” of “SEAHAWKS” painted in the blue, south end zone. That and two, improbable touchdowns in the final 2:09 of regulation sent the defending-champion Seahawks back from five turnovers and into the Super Bowl with an unfathomable, 28-22 victory in overtime over some stunned Packers Sunday afternoon at a completely off-the-hook CenturyLink Field.
“The BEST finishing team!” one of Seattle’s assistant coaches yelled as they ran jubilantly out of the press box downstairs to the locker room immediately after the ridiculous finish.
It really was ridiculous on top of ridiculous.
And it has the Seahawks (14-4) in Super Bowl XLIX Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz., against the Patriots (14-4). They beat Indianapolis in the AFC title game later Sunday.
“When you have the belief that these guys have in one another, there’s nothing you can’t do,” coach Pete Carroll said. “As crazy as that sounds …”
That’s how absolutely crazy it was.
“I wasn’t thinking about losing,” Carroll said.
Neither was Kearse — though he had reason to. Instead, he got his fourth touchdown in as many playoff games.
“There was never negative. There was always positive. Positivity, we preach it – and it goes a long way,” Kearse said.
“The real test is how you respond to that adversity.”
Test absolutely passed. With literally flying colors.
Blue-and-green confetti rained upon Wilson, Kearse and Baldwin following the astounding game. Amid the color, the quarterback who is now 6-1 in the playoffs was in tears for one of the only times he can remember over a game in his 26-year-old life. Baldwin and Kearse were crying, too, overcome with the emotion of a comeback they’ll be talking about around Puget Sound until the salmon stop making their runs.
“That’s the best game I’ve ever been in,” Wilson said. “I think it might be the best game in NFL history.
He said he was crying while thinking of his father, the late Harrison Wilson III, who taught him to always believe. For the love and bond he has with his teammates. For all time times he’s been told he’s too short, not good enough, too much of a “game manager” to do what he just did in the biggest moment of this season.
“I’ve been told ‘no’ a lot,” Wilson said. “But I continue to believe in myself.”
The belief he showed in Kearse was remarkable, considering the undrafted former Lakes High School and University of Washington star had allowed two of Wilson’s four interceptions to clang off his hands.
Seattle’s top-ranked defense, playing with All-Pro safety Earl Thomas having have his left shoulder popped back into socket and All-Pro cornerback playing with only one good arm for the final quarter, held Green Bay to field goals after it had twice gotten inside the 5 following two of the five turnovers. That’s what kept the Packers from not leading by any more than 16-0 at halftime.
“I kept telling him, ‘I’m coming back to you,’” Wilson said of Kearse.
Then Wilson got the “zero” coverage, no safeties in the middle of the field, the quarterback had been waiting for since offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had installed it last week. Wilson changed the play at the line. It called for Kearse to beat the cornerback Williams inside off the ball and keep him on his back shoulder during a deep post route.
“I knew if I could just beat my man he was going to give me an opportunity,” Kearse said. “I just had no doubt in my mind I was going to come down with that play.”
With Williams lacking safety help in the center of the field, Kearse’s first steps inside him off the line essentially won the NFC title for Seattle. Wilson’s perfect throw into Kearse’s galloping stride sealed it.
“All that trust, that’s what it leads to,” Wilson said. “We just kept believing. When we needed two touchdowns, there was no doubt. When I threw that ball to Doug Baldwin, when I threw that ball to Jermaine Kearse, there was no doubt.
“I even told Coach Bevell I was going to hit Jermaine Kearse for the touchdown.
“We are going BACK TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!!”
Wilson said that from a stage on the field.