SEATTLE — With blue- and green-colored confetti raining down from all corners of CenturyLink Field, wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Golden Tate decided to grab the unattended jumbo Seahawks flag and take off on a victory lap.
Rounding the first goalpost, Kearse winced. Worn out, he asked Tate to slow down.
We were both tired, Tate said.
Seventy-five percent around the stadium, we were just jogging.
Kearse saved the sprinting for Seattles biggest offensive play a go-ahead 35-yard touchdown catch from Russell Wilson early in the fourth quarter that lifted the Seahawks past San Francisco, 23-17, in the NFC Championship game.
A heroic touchdown pass, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
And Kearse will forever be hailed as the local hero from Lakes High School and the University of Washington who bailed out the Seahawks when they needed a play the most.
By now, it should not be considered a fluke.
Way back in training camp, quarterback Russell Wilson identified Kearse as a breakout candidate on offense.
And the second-year receiver showed that early with his game-winning touchdown catch in the season opener at Carolina. The stakes were much higher Sunday.
Trailing 17-13, Seattle started the fourth quarter with Wilsons 15-yard completion to Zach Miller to the 49ers 35. Carroll sent on the field-goal unit, but all kicker Steven Hauschka did was stand in formation as the play clock wound down.
Finally Carroll called timeout to discuss his options.
We were trying to figure out what to do, Wilson said.
And with coach Carroll, I was kind of begging him, Hey, lets go for it if were not kicking the field goal.
So Wilson trotted into the huddle and called the play, but added he would try a double count to try and get San Franciscos defensive linemen to jump offside.
And on the fly, Kearse, Tate and Doug Baldwin all headed to the end zone on vertical patterns.
Down the right seam, Kearse had inside position on 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers. Wilson saw that, and fired away.
The football flew over Rogers grasp. Kearse got his hands on it and briefly juggled it before securing it to his 6-foot-1 frame for the touchdown.
If we get a free play, we are going to take our shot, Kearse said.
And Russell gave me an amazing opportunity to go out there and make a play, and I came down with the ball. It felt like I had a good position. Russell threw the ball where I could get it.
After his post-game jaunt and after he caught his breath Kearse was asked if the touchdown meant a little more because he was a South Sound product.
It is amazing, Kearse said. Going to UW and Lakes and coming here this is a shout-out to Lakewood. It is for yall.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442