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VIDEO: Seattle Seahawks shut down Kaepernick, San Francisco in NFC Championship
In a back-and-forth affair, the Seattle Seahawks were the best team in the moments they needed to be, converting a 4th-and-7 into a game-winning, 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse and ending things with a fumble and two interceptions to send the 49ers packing, back to the golden coast of San Francisco.
Final score: Seattle 23, San Francisco 17.
The Pacific Northwest erupted in a shower of Skittles and neon once Richard Sherman's tip to Malcolm Smith put the 'Kaep' on a dominant second-half defensive performance.
After a season atop the NFC pile, Seattle's rabid fanbase was finally able to celebrate their franchise's second-ever Super Bowl appearance.
"We played so hard," Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said after his team's win (USA Today). "We talked at the beginning of year, Why not us? Why not us? That's kind of been our mind-set."
Wilson finished with an average stat line by his regular season standards, with 215 yards passing and zero yards on the ground. But he threw a fourth-quarter touchdown to Kearse and scrambled to find Doug Baldwin for a big gain in the second quarter, a completion that eventually led to Seattle's first score, a field goal to make it 10-3 San Fran.
Kaepernick threw for 153 years but led all players on the ground on Sunday with 130 yards rushing. He also threw a third-quarter touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, which temporarily put the Niners ahead 17-10 late.
It was the last time San Fran would enter Seattle's endzone, however, as the Seahawks ended the game by intercepting Kaepernick twice – the final one by Smith, the first by Kam Chancellor – and forcing a fumble out of the quarterback's hand, courtesy of a rush to Kaepernick's right by defensive end Michael Bennett.
"I didn't play good enough to win," Kaepernick said, post-game. "I turned the ball over three time. I cost us this game."
Seattle will face the Denver Broncos in two weeks in the Super Bowl, held in New York's (well, New Jersey's) MetLife Stadium.