Sunday, Jan. 25
Pro Bowl, 8 p.m. EST (ESPN). The NFL’s all-star game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the site of the Super Bowl. Hall of Fame wide receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin are alumni captains who will draft players to form teams among both AFC and NFC players.
Sunday, Feb. 1
Super Bowl, 6:30 p.m. EST (NBC). Russell Wilson and the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (14-4) take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (14-4), in a matchup of the No. 1 seeds in the NFC and AFC, respectively.
— Tom Brady, Patriots, was 23 of 35 for 226 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-7 rout of Indianapolis to lead New England to the Super Bowl.
— Russell Wilson, Seahawks, overcame a four-interception game by throwing his lone touchdown in overtime, a 35-yard game-winner to Jermaine Kearse that led Seattle to the Super Bowl with a 28-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
— Marshawn Lynch Seahawks, ran for 157 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown that gave Seattle a brief lead late in the fourth quarter of a 28-22 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers.
— Julian Edelman Patriots, caught nine passes for 98 yards to help New England top Indianapolis 45-7.
— Doug Baldwin Seahawks, had six catches for 106 yards in Seattle’s Super Bowl-clinching 28-22 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers.
— Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Packers, intercepted Russell Wilson twice in Green Bay’s 28-22 overtime loss to Seattle.
— Jon Ryan and Garry Gilliam Seahawks. Ryan, Seattle’s punter and holder on field goals, completed a 19-yard TD pass to offensive tackle Garry Gilliam on a fake field goal in the third quarter of the Seahawks’ 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay.
— Mason Crosby Packers, kicked five field goals, including a 48-yarder with 14 seconds left that sent the game to overtime before Green Bay fell 28-22 to the Seattle Seahawks.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are headed to a special place where no coach or player has gone more: the Super Bowl. They earned their sixth trip with the second-most lopsided AFC championship victory ever, a 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts. With his sixth Super Bowl berth, Brady surpassed John Elway for the most by a quarterback and tied defensive lineman Mike Lodish for most by any player. Belichick’s sixth visit tied him with Don Shula’s for most by a coach.
New England tied Dallas and Pittsburgh for the most appearances in the Super Bowl with eight. … Seattle became the first defending champion to make the Super Bowl in 10 years, when New England (2003-04) accomplished the feat. … Indianapolis’ Adam Vinatieri (30) passed Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (29) for the most career postseason games played in NFL history. … New England running back LeGarrette Blount tied wide receiver David Givens for the most postseason TDs in franchise history with seven. All of Blount’s have come against Indianapolis.
STREAKS & STATS
Seattle’s five giveaways in a 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay on Sunday were the most the Seahawks have had since Pete Carroll took over as coach in 2010. … Seattle’s 16-point comeback in a 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay on Sunday was the largest ever in a conference title game. The Colts defeated the Patriots after trailing 21-6 in 2006.
New England’s 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts was the second-most lopsided AFC championship victory ever. The biggest blowout was Buffalo’s 51-3 win over the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1990 season.
After the Seahawks cut the deficit to 19-14 with 2:09 left, their onside kick went high to Packers tight end Brandon Bostick—but he couldn’t gather it and Seattle’s Chris Matthews recovered at the 50. The crowd, quiet since Seattle fell behind 16-0, came alive, and Marshawn Lynch sped and powered his way to a 24-yard TD run. On the 2-point conversion, Wilson—about to be sacked—threw a desperate pass hauled in by Luke Willson to make it 22-19 with 1:25 remaining. Mason Crosby tied it to force overtime, but the Seahawks won it in the extra period.
For Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Indianapolis’ 45-7 loss to New England was the worst game of his three-year career and the fourth rout in his four career games against the Patriots, all by at least three touchdowns. He completed 12 of 33 passes for 126 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He lost 43-22 in last season’s divisional playoff with Blount rushing for 166 yards and four touchdowns. And on Nov. 16, he lost 43-22 as Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns.
Special teams trickery lifted the Seahawks back into the game after falling behind 16-0. Their first touchdown came on a fake field goal when holder Jon Ryan threw 19 yards to tackle eligible Garry Gilliam in the third quarter. And Chris Matthews’ onside kick recovery with 2 minutes left kept the Seahawks alive before Seattle beat Green Bay 28-22 in overtime.
Eight days after baffling Baltimore with a four-man offensive linemen formation that drew a loud protest from Ravens coach John Harbaugh in the Patriots’ 35-31 divisional win, Bill Belichick called a pass to left tackle Nate Solder who was eligible, that resulted in a 16-yard touchdown that made it 24-7 with just under five minutes gone in the third quarter. It was the first NFL catch for Solder, who was a tight end in college. The Patriots won 45-7. Solder is the third offensive lineman in Patriots history to catch a TD pass, joining Tom Ashworth (2005) and Pete Brock (1976).
Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy finished with 21 carries for 73 yards in the Packers’ 28-22 overtime loss to Seattle. In a crucial possession in the fourth quarter, Aaron Rodgers handed off to Lacy three straight times, and Green Bay failed to get the first down.
Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman played much of the final quarter of Seattle’s 28-22 win over Green Bay holding his left arm at his chest. He quietly left the field with his arm still pinned to his body, an NFC championship towel hanging off his right arm. Sherman said after the game about the Super Bowl: “I will 100 percent be able to play.” … Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas suffered a left shoulder injury in the second quarter, but returned before halftime and played the entire second half. Guard J.R. Sweezy also appeared to be slowed by a foot injury in the second half, but never left the game.
“I know we’ve had some ups and downs this year, but right now we’re up, baby, and we’re going to try to stay up for one more game.”—New England’s Tom Brady after the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl with a 45-7 rout of Indianapolis.
“The will and the drive of these men is unbelievable. We always find a way to finish.”—Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson after the Seahawks earned a return trip to the Super Bowl with a 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay.
“It’s going to be a missed opportunity that I’ll probably think about for the rest of my career. We were the better team today, we played well enough to win. We can’t blame anybody but ourselves.”—Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers after the Packers lost 28-22 to Seattle.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP— NFL