SEATTLE — Seconds after making the game-saving play to send Seattle to the Super Bowl, Seahawks CB Richard Sherman was fired up.
Sherman deflected a pass intended for San Francisco WR Michael Crabtree near the corner of the end zone with less than a minute left, right into the arms of Seattle teammate Malcolm Smith to seal the Seahawks' 23-17 win Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.
Sherman was subsequently whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, after exchanging words with Crabtree and making what appeared to be a choking gesture.
Sherman then stole the show and lit up Twitter with a rant to Fox reporter Erin Andrews that began: "I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you gonna get. Don't you ever talk about me!"
Sherman didn't back down later. He apologized to Andrews but proceeded to call Crabtree "mediocre," making sure to enunciate each syllable.
Crabtree, as might be expected, wasn't thrilled when told of Sherman's comments.
"He's a TV guy, I'm not a TV guy," Crabtree said. "He didn't make any other plays in the game … But he made a good play there. He can keep talking.
"You make one play and you talk? Good play."
Bowman hurt: San Francisco All-Pro LB NaVorro Bowman left in the fourth quarter with a serious left knee injury.
Bowman was hurt with 8:45 left as he forced a fumble near the goal line. He stripped the ball from Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse at the San Francisco 1. Kearse was hit by S Eric Reid and was knocked into Bowman's extended left leg. Bowman's left knee bent severely inward.
"It looks like an ACL," coach Jim Harbaugh said; if that's the case Bowman might need reconstructive surgery.
Earlier, the 49ers lost starting LG Mike Iupati in the second quarter. Harbaugh said it appeared to be a broken ankle.
Talib dinged again: New England CB Aqib Talib left Sunday's AFC Championship Game against Denver in the second quarter with a knee injury.
The Patriots first announced Talib, a former Buc, left with a rib ailment, then said after halftime that it was his knee.
Talib was shaken up when he ran into Broncos WR Wes Welker on a pass play over the middle. Talib stayed on the ground for several minutes before walking off the field.
Talib also left last year's AFC title game loss to Baltimore with a leg injury.
Valuable signal: ESPN noted that Broncos QB Peyton Manning made $24,800 for his charity during Sunday's game, all for yelling out the name of a particular city in a state bordering Colorado.
And yelling it out a lot.
Eight businesses in the Omaha, Neb., area will donate the money to Manning's Peyback Foundation after they committed to donate a combined $800 for each time he said the word "Omaha" at the line of scrimmage. Typically that word triggers the snap count.
Manning said "Omaha" 31 times in Denver's victory against the Patriots.
Notable: Former Patriots CB Marquice Cole was among the Broncos' inactives. New England released Cole on Dec. 26 and Denver signed him last week to replace injured Chris Harris, who blew out his right knee against San Diego.