Kaepernick inspires 49ers to date with Seahawks
Colin Kaepernick threw one touchdown pass and ran for another score as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers 23-10 to advance to the NFC championship game for the third straight season.
Kaepernick (right) completed 15 of 28 passes for 196 yards, avenging his worst statistical performance of the season two months ago against the Panthers.
Anquan Boldin had eight catches for 136 yards and Frank Gore ran for 84 yards on 17 carries for the 49ers (14-4), who'll travel to Seattle next Sunday looking for a return trip to the Super Bowl. San Francisco split two games with the Seahawks this season.
The 49ers held Cam Newton in check, intercepting him twice and sacking him four times while stopping the Panthers (12-5) twice on a one-yard line.
They will now travel to face Seattle who shut out the Saints in the first half, got Marshawn Lynch's first 100-yard game since week 10 of the regular season and received a spark from the brief return of Percy Harvin before he left with a concussion.
Lynch scored on a 15-yard run in the first half and capped the victory with a 31-yard scoring run with 2:40 left that coach Pete Carroll celebrated by jumping into offensive line coach Tom Cable's arms.
Lynch stiff-armed Keenan Lewis on his way to the end zone for the clinching score that left CenturyLink Field swaying. While the clinching score lacked the stunning explosiveness of Lynch's 'Beast Quake' touchdown run against the Saints in the 2010 playoffs, this one was more important.
Lynch finished with 28 carries and made up for another shaky day passing by Russell Wilson. Seattle's offence was a concern heading into the post-season and, outside of Lynch, they did little to quell those worries.
Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals in blustery conditions as the top-seeded Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints 23-15 and advanced to the NFC championship game for the second time in club history.
Elsewhere, LeGarrette Blount had four touchdown runs as New England kept Andrew Luck from a second straight comeback victory, beating the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 on Saturday.
Blount scored on three two-yard runs in the first half, then burst through the right side of the line and rambled 73 yards into the end zone, where he placed the ball gently on the ground made soggy by a game-long rain. He finished with 166 yards on 24 carries. On the next series, Luck threw his third interception and the Patriots capitalised with Stevan Ridley's second touchdown run.
The Patriots (13-4) will face Broncos or the Chargers. It will be in Denver if the Broncos win, and New England will host it if the Chargers win. The Colts (12-6) never led. "It's just a great achievement," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "People have counted us out at times this year, but I think we've got a locker room full of believers."
Blount joined Ricky Watters, who had five touchdowns for San Francisco in 1994, as the only players with four or more in a playoff game.