If there was a time and place to kill off the Seahawks, it was Sunday, in their own stadium, with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers pushing the detonator.
If there a moment this could have expired — all of Seattle’s Super Bowl momentum, ambition, aggression and audacity — it was in this NFC Championship game.
If the Seahawks were going away, it had to happen then: Green Bay ahead 19-7 with the ball, the clock ticking under five minutes, and “12th Man” Seattle fans streaming out of CenturyLink Field.
Right then. Had to.
Then, through the conjuring of frantic NFL playoff magic and a prolonged Green Bay gag reflex, it didn’t happen.
Seattle won, 28-22 in overtime. Seattle lives.
It took a successful onside kick off the helmet of Green Bay’s Brandon Bostick, 15 Seahawks points in 44 seconds, and a two-point conversion.
In the end, it took a game-winning overtime TD strike to Jermaine Kearse, who hadn’t caught a pass to that point (and was the intended target on all four of Russell Wilson’s interceptions).
And if the Seahawks can survive that, I can’t possibly pick against them in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 1.
Yes, New England annihilated Indianapolis 45-7 Sunday night in the soggy AFC anticlimax after the NFC thrill-ride.
Yes, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are a formidable pair — they just made it to their sixth Super Bowl together, the most ever for a quarterback-coach combination.
I’m still picking Seattle and it’s an easy pick.
The Seahawks will play better than they did on Sunday — the Seattle offense, and Wilson in particular, is due to play much better.
And much looser, frankly. With the exception of the eternally untroubled Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks offense looked incredibly tight on Sunday … until the last few minutes.
The Seahawks defense will handle the Patriots — the physical matchups favor Seattle in every area except New England’s Rob Gronkowski vs. anybody, but Seattle can scheme for that.
And Seattle will repeat as Super Bowl champion.
OK, the Seahawks might not humiliate the Patriots the way they did Denver in last year’s Super Bowl.
I think New England’s defense is better suited to match up with Seattle’s offensive weapons than Denver’s was; and I think Brady will be far sharper than Peyton Manning was in the last Super Bowl.
I think Seattle might not be as good right now as it was a year ago — right after conquering the 49ers last January, it was pretty obvious that the Seahawks were just about invincible.
Going into this Super Bowl, Seattle will have to deal with the injuries suffered in this game by cornerback Richard Sherman (arm) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder) — though both said afterward that they for sure are playing on Feb. 1.
And finally, New England’s Belichick undoubtedly is a more formidable opponent for Pete Carroll than the recently fired John Fox ever was when he coached the Broncos.
By the way, Carroll, who was the Patriots coach from 1997-1999, directly preceded Belichick in New England.
A side note: If it was Belichick, not Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, whose team was dominating Seattle on Sunday, he almost certainly would’ve pushed to put Seattle away for good as quickly as possible.
But McCarthy played it conservatively even as Seattle continued to give Green Bay great field position — kicking short field goals, just trying to manage the game.
Seattle’s defense took it from there, which is how Seattle was still only behind by 12 in the last few minutes.
“I didn’t think it would take a lot of points to win this game,” McCarthy said after the game.
That’s not how you beat Seattle, it turns out.
Well, nobody in the last two years has exactly figured out how to beat the Seahawks in the postseason.
I don’t think New England will figure it out, either. I’m saying Seattle will become the first back-to-back Super Bowl winners since New England after the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
If Seattle keeps it together into 2015, this franchise could go for the first Super Bowl three-peat … ever.
Super Bowl 50, of course, will be played at Levi’s Stadium in February 2016. If you need some time to brace for that possibility, you better start now.