By Justin Henry
Cold Hard Football Facts' Dr. Death (@jrhwriting)
The Seahawks found themselves on many prognosicator lists as the predicted NFC champion this summer.
A sexy pick due to their ground-and-pound offense, and fortress-like defense known as "The Legion of Boom", the Seahawks had the goods on paper, with the sudden pressure to live up to the hype. As of Sunday, they're a team that's certainly 'for real'.
The Seahawks upended their arch-nemesis 49ers 23-17 in a wild NFC Championship Game in Seattle; a battle predicated on twists and turns, a little bit of controversy, and a lot of pushing and shoving.
In the end, Seattle rattled off 13 unanswered points, including a daring fourth down touchdown throw to Jermaine Kearse, to book the flight to New Jersey.
1. Wilson Comes Through
Russell Wilson's fourth-down prayer to Kearse will become a spring for NFL Films to run their highlight reel cups under.
At times in the fourth, the generally unflappable Wilson appeared tense, evident in his mechanics, but his entire performance was top notch.
The stat sheet doesn't bug a reader's eyes, going 16 of 25 for 215 yards and a touchdown with no picks, but that's a rating of 104.58 for Wilson. Compared to Colin Kaepernick's 56.42 rating, Wilson played under much better control, and facilitated bigger plays.
2. Just Efficient Enough
Marshawn Lynch became the first player to clear 100 yards rushing on the 49ers since he'd done so in late 2012. Lynch supplied 109 of the team's 115 yards (including a 40-yard tectonic-plate-breaking touchdown in the third quarter) on a team usually great versus the run.
The offense as a whole struggled in the trenches against San Fran's defense, but Seattle won the little battles. The Seahawks converted five of 14 third downs to the 49ers' three of 11. Also, Seattle surrendered four Negative Pass Plays on 29 dropbacks to the 49ers' four on 28.
3. The Turnover Battle
Seattle suffered only one official turnover, a sack-fumble facilitated by Aldon Smith. A bad handoff on a fourth and goal to Marshawn Lynch was nearly another, but still, the Seahawks only turned the ball over once. For the day, Seattle went +2 in the category.
Seattle's defense made three timely plucks to counterpunch, including Richard Sherman's tip-turned-Malcolm Smith's snag to end the game. Kam Chancellor had a leaping pick of his own, and a Michael Bennett sack-fumble soundly turned much of the momentum.