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Originally published January 18, 2015 at 7:36 PM | Page modified January 18, 2015 at 11:31 PM

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Seahawks’ incredible comeback in NFC title game brings out the emotions

The Seahawks’ surprising rally against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game hits home for several players, including Earl Thomas and Kevin Williams.

Seattle Times staff reporter

What the Seahawks were saying after the game

“I just felt like we weren’t cutting it loose, and that’s not us. That’s not us at all. But what great thrill to find they can come out of that.”

— Offensive line coach Tom Cable on his team “pressing” in the first three quarters

“I wasn’t even supposed to get the ball, first off. It was supposed to go all the way out to Kam (Chancellor), and we were all supposed to block for Kam and Kam was supposed to go up and get the ball. But like I said, it just so happened that it popped up and it was a perfect kick. He bobbled it, and we went up and capitalized on it.”

— Wide receiver Chris Matthews on the onside kick he recovered

“I didn’t see the play. I didn’t know the overtime rules, I’m not going to lie to you. I thought we were going to have to go out there and defend one more time. I saw coaches getting stumbled up on and getting tripped up and realized we won the game.”

— Defensive end Cliff Avril on Seattle’s game-winning touchdown

“At that point in the game, a lot of people would have laid down or given up on the situation of the game. It was like a no-win situation. But when you’ve got guys like we’ve got on our team, some wolves, they fight like a wolf pack, so you can’t ever turn your back on a wolf pack.”

— Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel on trailing 19-7

“We’re playing for each other, and we’re having fun. It’s like nothing I’ve ever been a part of. I can’t imagine too many things in this world, not even football, just guys putting others before themselves. It’s crazy, man. It’s hard to put into words.”

— Offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy

“That looked like Reggie Miller hitting 3s against the Knicks.”

— Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane on the Seahawks’ comeback

“I kind of felt like everybody felt like we just had to show up and it was just going to be given to us. We didn’t really come ready to fight. They came out and hit us in the mouth, and it kind of woke us up a little bit.”

— Offensive lineman Alvin Bailey on the Seahawks’ slow start

“I don’t know. Like Hangover II.”

– Defensive lineman Michael Bennett on how he ended up on a policeman’s bike after the game

“If I was going to go down, I was going to go down swinging.”

— Quarterback Russell Wilson on his four interceptions

“If it looked like it took forever to you, it looked like it took an eternity to me.”

— Offensive lineman Garry Gilliam on his touchdown catch on the fake field goal

“Just like our season, right?”

— Cornerback Richard Sherman, when told that a reporter had to rewrite his story from the game a few times


Seahawks safety Earl Thomas walked off the field, up the tunnel to the locker room and wiped tears from his eyes.

On a stage in the middle of the field behind him, under a blanket of rattling noise from a still-full stadium, Thomas’ teammates celebrated their 28-22 overtime win against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game. But Thomas headed for the quiet and solitude of an otherwise empty locker room.

“This game, I can’t describe it right now,” Thomas said. “Maybe I’ve got to sit and process it in my mind. But it just makes you sit back and be like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s bigger than you.”

“There was so much chaos out there as far as flags, turnovers, missed tackles,” he continued. “But we overcame that. That’s just who we are. This definitely brings us closer.”

He paused.

“Relentless,” he said.

Then he paused again.

“It’s hard for me to even describe what just happened, bro. I’m clueless right now.”

In the second quarter, Thomas left the game with a shoulder injury. He headed for the sideline, and once there trainers tried to get him to head to the locker room for more exams. He protested. Coach Pete Carroll finally walked over, put his hands on the side of Thomas’ head and told him to get to the locker room. His return was announced as questionable, but Thomas had no such doubts.

“It wasn’t any heroic act,” he said. “It was just me knowing what I’ve got to do. I love this game.”

On the field after the game, amid the chaos, wide receiver Ricardo Lockette grabbed running back Robert Turbin. Lockette turned toward the giant scoreboard hanging over the end zone, the one where Jermaine Kearse’s 35-yard touchdown from Russell Wilson had just won the game.

“Down 19 to 7, five minutes to go,” Lockette said. “Anything can happen. Any … thing … can … happen.”

It was at that moment — five minutes to go, the Seahawks trailing by 12 — that Wilson threw an interception intended for Kearse, the pair’s fourth such failed connection. The season’s obituary was ready to be written.

But something interesting happened after the interception.

Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett, the player who picked Wilson off, went down on his own instead of returning the ball for what could have put the Packers in field-goal range, if not a touchdown. It was the kind of decision a team makes at the end of the game, when the outcome is determined.

“They thought it was over,” Lockette shouted on the field.

After the interception, Brandon Mebane, Seattle’s injured defensive tackle, turned toward the stands. He wanted to see if any fans were leaving.

“They stayed,” he said.

Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel looked over to the Green Bay sideline as he and the rest of the defense jogged onto the field.

“They started celebrating,” he said. “I saw them over there on the sidelines getting too happy. They’ve got to understand that we’re the world champions trying to defend our title. You can never give up on us. But at that point in the game, they probably thought it was over.”

McDaniel didn’t waver. In the face of what looked to be an insurmountable deficit considering the remaining time, McDaniel pulled confidence from … Madden, the widely popular NFL video game series, of which he is a big fan.

“I play Madden a lot, so I know what can happen. Madden is like real football, so I know that five minutes is a long time. I play Madden Moments” — Madden Moments allow users to recreate special situations from games — “and that was going through my head, like, ‘This has definitely got to be a Madden Moment.’ ”

After the comeback was complete and the celebration was over, defensive tackle Kevin Williams walked off the field with his family. Williams had come to Seattle for this very opportunity: to play in his first Super Bowl after 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

As he headed for the locker room smiling, he held the hand of his son, Kevin, whose head comes up to his dad’s waist. Kevin’s cheeks were covered with streams of tears.

“He was bawling real hard,” Williams said.

“I didn’t know what to say. He was just so happy. He loves football and to see his dad make it that far, I think it was too much for him.”

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