SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks are bringing their game-changing defense — and the 12th Man — to the Big Apple for the Super Bowl.
Seattle’s top-ranked defense forced three fourth-quarter turnovers, and Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down for the winning points in a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC title Sunday.
Seattle will meet Denver (15-3) for the NFL title in two weeks in the New Jersey Meadowlands. It’s the first trip to the big game for the Seahawks (15-3) since they lost to Pittsburgh after the 2005 season.
The conference champs had the best records in the league this year, the first time the top seeds have gotten to the Super Bowl since the 2010 game.
Moments after Richard Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick’s pass to teammate Malcolm Smith for the clinching interception, the All-Pro cornerback jumped into the stands behind the end zone, saluting the Seahawks’ raucous fans. With 12th Man flags waving everywhere, and ‘‘New York, New York’’ blaring over the loudspeakers, CenturyLink Field rocked like never before.
‘‘That’s as sweet as it gets,’’ Sherman said.
San Francisco (14-5) led 17-13 when Wilson, given a free play as Aldon Smith jumped offside, hurled the ball to Jermaine Kearse, who made a leaping catch in the end zone over Carlos Rogers.
Steven Hauschka then kicked his third field goal, and Smith intercepted in the end zone on the 49ers’ final possession.
‘‘This feels even sweeter, with the amazing support we have had from the 12th Man,’’ team owner Paul Allen said, comparing this Super Bowl trip to the previous one.