Seattle's top-ranked defense forced three fourth-quarter turnovers, and Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down for the winning points in a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC title Sunday.
Seattle will meet Denver (15-3) for the NFL title in two weeks in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It's the first trip to the big game for the Seahawks (15-3) since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.
The conference champs had the best records in the league this year, the first time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl since the 2010 game.
Moments after Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick's pass to teammate Malcolm Smith for the clinching interception, the All-Pro cornerback jumped into the stands behind the end zone, saluting the Seahawks' raucous fans. With 12th Man flags waving everywhere, and "New York, New York" blaring over the loudspeakers, CenturyLink Field rocked like never before.
"That's as sweet as it gets," Sherman said.
San Francisco (14-5) led 17-13 when Wilson, given a free play as Aldon Smith jumped offside, hurled the ball to Jermaine Kearse, who made a leaping catch in the end zone over Carlos Rogers.
Steven Hauschka then kicked his third field goal, and Smith intercepted in the end zone on the 49ers' final possession.
"This feels even sweeter, with the amazing support we have had from the 12th Man," team owner Paul Allen said, comparing this Super Bowl trip to the previous one.
49ers' Bowman leaves with left leg injury
San Francisco All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman left Sunday's NFC championship game in the fourth quarter after suffering a serious left knee injury.
Bowman was injured with 8:45 left as he forced a fumble near the goal line. Bowman stripped the ball from Jermaine Kearse at the San Francisco 1. Kearse was hit by Eric Reid and was knocked into Bowman's extended left leg. Bowman's left knee bent the severely inward. Players in the pile trying to find the fumble immediately started waving to the 49ers bench for help.
Bowman was lifted onto a cart and immediately taken off the field.
Early in the game, the 49ers lost starting left guard Mike Iupati to an ankle injury suffered in the second quarter. Iupati was injured on Anthony Dixon's 1-yard touchdown dive.
Iupati was down on the field for several minutes, then had to be helped to the sideline by teammates and was putting very little weight on his right leg. Iupati eventually was taken to the locker room on a cart.
After receiving X-rays, the 49ers said he would not return.
The 49ers lost running back LaMichael James for a brief time after getting hit by Seattle's Ricardo Lockette on a punt return.
James was on his back on the field for several minutes before being helped to the sideline with his arms around trainers.
James had attempted to field the punt from Seattle's Jon Ryan on the first play of the second quarter, but the ball hit off his chest. As he attempted to reach for the ball, Lockette hit James hard to the turf.
The 49ers announced that James was questionable to return, but he returned to field a kickoff later in the second quarter.