NFC Championship game
The Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in the NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.
SEATTLE — Of all the Seattle Seahawks, none was more emotional after Sunday's game than Michael Robinson.
Tears streamed down the fullback's face as confetti fluttered in the air. He held his teammates in long embraces.
Robinson didn't think he would have that chance.
First came a mysterious illness in August. He was cut after losing nearly 30 pounds.
But Robinson regained his health and a roster spot after other players were injured. After Sunday's win, a season's worth of uncertainty, struggle and redemption game flooding out.
"I've got no more tears," Robinson said. "I didn't think I was going to cry. But I've had a long year. I don't know. God wanted me to be here."
In August, Robinson felt like a cold was coming on. But he knew something was wrong when his urine started coming out dark red.
His red blood cell count plummeted. Within two weeks, he had fallen from his playing weight of 245 to 212. His digestive system and kidneys were shutting down.
It took two trips to the hospital before a cause was pinpointed. Robinson was having an allergic reaction to a painkiller prescribed by the Seahawks medical staff.
Robinson was let go on the last cut of training camp. He didn't give up on his football career and worked himself back into playing shape.
A veteran leader and one of the most respected players in Seattle's locker room, Robinson was re-signed on Oct. 22.
Sunday's game, in a way, as reflective of Robinson's season. The offense fumbled on the first play, struggled, rebounded, and eventually emerged victorious.
"Losing wasn't an option," he said. "It was not on the multiple-choice quiz."
Cliff Avril came up big again.
The defensive end has turned the strip-sack into something of an art form. Having forced five fumbles this season, he produced another in the third quarter by stripping Colin Kaepernick. Michael Bennett, another off-season signing for the Seahawks defense, recovered the fumble.
"I just try to get the sack," Avril said. "But if the ball is there, why not go for it?"
Avril does not take winning for granted. He started his NFL career on a historically bad Detroit Lions team.
"I won zero games my rookie year," Avril said. "To be here going to the Super Bowl six years later is a heck of a story I can tell my son."
Ceiling can't hold him
Seattle rapper Macklemore was a guest of honor Sunday and provided halftime entertainment.
But he reverted to lifelong Seattle sports fan in the Seahawks locker room after the game.
"It was the most exciting game I've ever watched in person," he said. "I wasn't there for the Mariners in 1995, but this has got to be right there. We had high expectations for this team and they surpassed them. That's why we're going to the Super Bowl."
Macklemore's voice was raspy from screaming.
"I gotta rest it for the Grammys next week," he said.