The Seattle Seahawks' hopes of going to the NFC championship against rival San Francisco 49ers for the third time was extinguished by a controversial third-down conversion by Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham was ruled to have picked up the first down and the play was upheld on review. But some angles seemed to indicate the pass-catcher was down short of the sticks, which would've forced Green Bay to punt with two minutes to go.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was among those who thought his team should've gotten a chance to win the game down 28-23.
"My guys just were telling me it was short, you know?" Carroll said, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com. "It looked short and had they called him short, then it would've been short. It's the same thing last week: you call 'em a score, you let 'em score. They wouldn't overturn that one - I'm going back to the Niners game, I guess. That's how it goes."
While Carroll didn't criticize the refs postgame, he couldn't hide his frustrations upon hearing the call:
The effort of Graham, who previously played in Seattle, gifted Aaron Rodgers the fourth NFC title game appearance of his storied career.
When asked about the game-ending play, the quarterback said he was relieved the Packers had luck on their side. Earlier in the contest, Seattle retained a fumble due to an unclear recovery by Green Bay.
"We kind of got hosed on the first quarter one, so I was hoping we didn’t get hosed again," he said.