by: KIRO 7 Staff and The Associated Press Updated:
After all the buildup – Internet memes, fan trash talking, analysis of who was the better quarterback – just what did San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick say to Russell Wilson after the Seahawks 23-17 NFC Championship win?
It wasn't nearly as hostile as some of the fan banter around the stadium – or online.
As the final seconds counted down Sunday, three 49ers jogged to the locker room and the mob of photographers grew around Wilson. ESPN's Erin Andrews looked for Richard Sherman, irate about his moment with Michael Crabtree. Wilson clutched the game ball in his right hand before swapping that and his helmet for a gray hat with "Conference Champions" in all caps.
Two seconds later Wilson found Kaepernick.
"Hey, good game, man," Wilson told him.
"Hey, good luck to you," Kaepernick said.
As his sentence ended, the first fireworks exploded over CenturyLink Field.
"Go get yourself a win."
And that was it.
Later that night Kaepernick told reporters, "I didn't play good enough to win. (I) turned the ball over three times. I cost us this game."
But that's not to say he wouldn't do the play over again if he could.
"I had a 1-on-1 matchup with Crab," Kaepernick told reporters. "I'll take that every time … against anyone."
Speaking of Crabtree in a Sports Illustrated column Monday, Sherman declared, "I just don't like him," and said the dislike went back to a comment Crabtree made in the offseason.
Sherman's opinion could not have been clearer: "If you put a subpar player across from a great one, most of the time you're going to get one result."
Moments after Sherman tipped Kaepernick's pass to teammate Malcolm Smith for the interception, the NFL leader in picks did a CenturyLink Leap into the stands behind the end zone, saluting the Seahawks' raucous fans. With 12th Man flags waving everywhere — receiver Golden Tate paraded around the field with one — and "New York, New York" blaring over the loudspeakers, CenturyLink Field rocked like never before.
As the fireworks continued, free safety Chris Maragos wrapped an "NFC Champions" towel around Wilson's back and they kneeled next to Russell Okung. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound tackle led them in prayer.
"I pray that you use us, Lord," Okung yelled, barely audible to those only feet from him. "Win or lose."
He gave thanks for the quarterback, for the Seahawks' amazing defensive skills and the leaders who helped them get there. Two weeks from Sunday Seattle could win its first Super Bowl by beating Denver.
"This is really special," said Carroll, who won two national championships at Southern California and 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.
KIRO 7 executive producer Casey McNerthney contributed to this story. Want to talk about the news of the day? Watch free streaming video on the KIRO 7 mobile app and iPad app, and join us here on Facebook.