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Seahawks rally, beat 49ers 23-17 for NFC title

Sunday, 19 January 2014 23:47 Published in Sports
Golden Tate grabbed a 12th Man flag and circled the field with it.
 
Even team owner Paul Allen made an appearance and gave a victory speech.
 
The Seattle Seahawks are headed to the Big Apple for the Super Bowl.
 
"To see all our work that we put in - the mornings, the nights, the weights, all your life, as a young player and in the NFL," Malcolm Smith said after his end zone interception with 22 seconds remaining clinched the 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. "It's amazing."
 
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. 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 second time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl in 20 seasons. It also is a classic confrontation of Denver's record-setting offense led by Peyton Manning against the NFL's stingiest defense. Denver opened as a 1-point favorite over Seattle on the Glantz-Culver Line.
 
"It will be a great matchup," coach Pete Carroll said. "I think it's an extraordinary opportunity to go against a guy that set all the records in the history of the game."
 
Moments after Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick's pass to Smith for the 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," said Sherman, who also went into several rants about 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree, whom he called a "sorry receiver."
 
"This is really special," added Carroll, who has turned around the Seahawks in four seasons in charge. "It would really be a mistake to not remember the connection and the relationship between this football team and the 12th Man and these fans. It's unbelievable."
 
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.
 
Steven Hauschka then kicked his third field goal following Kam Chancellor's pick, 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," Allen said, comparing this Super Bowl trip to the previous one.
 
Until Seattle's top-ranked defense forced a fumble and had two interceptions in the final period, the game was marked by big offensive plays in the second half. That was somewhat shocking considering the strength of both teams' defenses.
 
And those plays came rapidly.
 
Marshawn Lynch, in full "Beast Mode," ran over a teammate and then outsped the 49ers to the corner of the end zone for a 40-yard TD, making it 10-10.
 
Kaepernick then was responsible for consecutive 22-yard gains, hitting Crabtree, then rushing to the Seattle 28. His fumble on the next play was recovered by center Jonathan Goodwin, who even lumbered for 2 yards.
 
Anquan Boldin outleapt All-Pro safety Earl Thomas on the next play for a 26-yard touchdown.
 
Then, Doug Baldwin, who played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, stepped up - and through San Francisco's coverage - on a scintillating 69-yard kickoff return that made the stadium shake for the first time all day.
 
That set up Hauschka's 40-yard field goal. And a frantic finish.
 
Seattle took its first lead on Wilson's throw to Kearse with 13:44 left, and CenturyLink rocked again.
 
The place went silent soon after when Niners All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman sustained an ugly left knee injury midway and was carted off. Bowman, who was having a huge game, had forced a fumble at the San Francisco 1, but Lynch recovered.
 
"I never heard him yell like that, or even stay down for a moment," teammate Patrick Willis said of Bowman.
 
The Seahawks had gotten their first turnover moments earlier when Cliff Avril stripped Kaepernick and Michael Bennett recovered. But Lynch and Wilson botched a handoff on fourth down on the play after Bowman's injury.
 
It took only two plays for Chancellor to haul in Kaepernick's underthrow to Boldin, and Hauschka's 47-yarder ended the scoring.
 
But not the excitement.
 
Kaepernick, who rushed for 130 yards, got San Francisco to the Seattle 18 with his arm. But his pass for Crabtree was brilliantly tipped by Sherman to Smith.
 
"We knew it would come down to us in the back end to win this thing," Sherman said.
 
The final play was similar to last year's Super Bowl ending, when Kaepernick missed Crabtree in the end zone from the 5 and Baltimore survived.
 
"It's tough. Any time you get this close to the Super Bowl and lose, it's pretty upsetting," tight end Vernon Davis said. "We just didn't get it. We've been down this road before in the same kind of situation. It's hard."
 
Whether it was nerves or just a great play by Aldon Smith, Wilson fumbled on Seattle's first snap. Smith got credit for a sack and a recovery, too - a defender's dream - at the Seahawks 15.
 
More staunch defense followed, this time by Seattle, which held and only gave up Phil Dawson's 25-yard field goal.
 
Seattle simply had no answers for Kaepernick's runs, looking either flat-footed or plain-out lost when he took off. He gained 98 yards on the ground in the first half, including a 58-yard second-quarter run, the longest of his three-year career and the longest Seattle's defense allowed all season.
 
But he was less effective in the second half and was plagued by turnovers.
 
Wilson came up with a huge improvisation of his own moments after Kaepernick's long jaunt. Wilson avoided the rush with some nifty scrambling before spotting Baldwin behind the defense for a 51-yard pickup.
 
All it resulted in was Hauschka's 32-yard field goal, making it 10-3.
 
Baldwin finished with six receptions for 106 yards.
 
And now it's on to New Jersey, where Carroll once coached the Jets for a season. That didn't end well - he was fired so the team could hire Rich Kotite. He heads back with a chance to add a Super Bowl crown to two national titles as coach at Southern California.

Brown scores 24 as Missouri beats Alabama 68-47

Saturday, 18 January 2014 22:56 Published in Sports
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Jabari Brown tied a career high with 24 points and Johnathan Williams III grabbed 14 rebounds to help Missouri defeat Alabama 68-47 on Saturday.
 
Missouri (14-3, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) entered the game having lost two of three, including a 78-75 setback at Vanderbilt on Thursday. The Tigers only led 31-30 at the break against the Crimson Tide, but opened the second half with a 14-4 run to create some breathing room.
 
After shooting 52.6 percent in its 80-61 win against Mississippi State on Wednesday, Alabama converted 29.2 percent of its shots from the field against Missouri and couldn't pull closer than 13 points in the final 10 minutes.
 
Shannon Hale scored 12 points and Retin Obasohan added 11 points for the Crimson Tide (8-9, 2-2), which is 0-7 away from home this season.
 
Missouri benefited from the return of Jordan Clarkson in the second half after he sat the final 12 minutes in the first. Averaging 18.8 points per game, Clarkson scored four points before the break but finished with 16.
 
The Tigers yielded only five 3-pointers — one game after allowing 12 to Vanderbilt — and limited Alabama to 25 percent shooting from behind the arc. Coach Frank Haith had lamented the Tigers' inability to make several layups against Vanderbilt, and the team missed several more against the Crimson Tide.
 
Missouri shot 42.6 percent overall, including 52.4 percent (11 for 21) in the second half.
 
For its part, Alabama wasn't much better around the basket. Trevor Releford, a senior guard from Kansas City, Mo., leads the Crimson Tide with 18.9 points per game but tied a season low with 10 points on four of 16 shooting.
 
After its initial run after halftime, Missouri gradually kept pulling away in front of a season-high attendance of 11,003. Before the game, fans could receive autographs from six members of the St. Louis Cardinals, headlined by NL championship series MVP Michael Wacha.
 
The Tigers hoped to put their troubles behind them by scoring the first seven points of the game, but Alabama scored 12 of the next 14. The teams then traded baskets until Williams' jumper put Missouri ahead 31-30 with 53 seconds remaining before halftime.

Getzlaf scores 25th goal, Ducks top Blues 3-2

Saturday, 18 January 2014 22:55 Published in Sports
 
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Ryan Getzlaf scored his 25th goal, and rookie Frederik Andersen made 34 saves as the Anaheim Ducks got back to their winning ways with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
 
Anaheim, which had an eight-game winning streak snapped on Friday in Chicago, has won 19 of 21. The Ducks have won nine of their last 11 on the road and lead the NHL with 79 points. They are 20-0-2 at home.
 
Matt Beleskey and Cam Fowler also scored for the Ducks, who have a league-best 37 points on the road. Andersen (12-2) has won three straight.
 
Barret Jackman and Jaden Schwartz scored third-period goals for St. Louis, which has lost back-to-back games in regulation for just the second time this season.
 
Anaheim scored three times on its first 11 shots against Brian Elliott, who had a franchise-record, 13-game home winning streak snapped.
 
Getzlaf scored off a pass from Corey Perry 5:27 into the game. Getzlaf, who added an assist, has 14 points in his last nine games.
 
Beleskey squeezed a shot through Elliott early in the second period. Elliott made the initial save, but the puck trickled through his legs into the net.
 
Fowler tallied on the power play with a shot from the top of the circle to push the lead 3-0 midway through the second period.
 
Schwartz got the Blues to within 3-2 with a power-play goal at 14:31 of the third.
 
St. Louis is 1-7 against California teams this season.
 
NOTES: St. Louis LW Alexander Steen returned to the lineup after missing 11 games because of a concussion. ... The Blues have an NHL-best, plus-55 goal differential. ... Anaheim RW Teemu Selanne didn't play in the second of back-to-back games, as usual. The Ducks lost 4-2 in Chicago on Friday. ... RW Chris Stewart played in his 200th game with the Blues. ... The Ducks are 22-3-4 in games in which they score first.
 

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