Mike Ferreri: Seahawks catch lightning in a bottle

The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl last season. This year they found themselves at home, on the couch, watching the playoffs with everybody else.

The NFL is like that: when you catch lightning in a bottle, you'd better run with it - all the way to the podium where you get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy because it may be a while before that chance comes again.

Seattle is set to host the NFC title game for only the second time in franchise history and the first time since the Carolina Panthers came to town in 2006 and lost to the Seahawks, sending Mike Holmgren and his team on their way to the Super Bowl. It's been eight years since then - these opportunities don't come along very often, and when they do you have to savor them, live in the moment if you will.

Getting to this point, hosting the NFC championship game on their home field against their bitter division rival, is something that seemed light years away when training camp began for the Seahawks in late July. But they made it - it's the final step in what could be a Super Bowl season.

"Well it's been a long year here to get to this point, and it's one that's been really fun for us, exciting, and it's really a thrill to bring a championship game to CenturyLink and to our fans," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

"The 12s are deserving and they're ready for it and excited about it, as we are, and I think this matchup is exactly what everybody is looking for, and it's an exciting one with a lot of background, and I'm grateful that it's coming from our division."

The 12s are as much a part of this NFC championship as the Seahawks players and coaches. Loyal fans filled the hill at the VMAC in Renton in the heat of July, watching the Seahawks go through the rigors of training camp. Many of those same fans were braving the rain falling sideways Saturday for the divisional round against the Saints - they'll do just about anything for their team.

"It just shows how great this city is, and the Seattle Seahawks want to bring something special to this city and to do that, we have to play the best 60 minutes of our life," said Russell Wilson.

"That's the way we look at it and see how many great minutes that we can put together and see how many great plays that we can put together and see how many great days this week we can put together and see what happens come Sunday night."

The excitement for this game is reverberating from inside the Seahawks locker room, on to the 12th Man and throughout the Northwest. An entire region knows what is at stake.

The Seahawks have a chance to do something special Sunday afternoon and that makes THIS game one of the biggest in the history of the franchise.

"It's big, it's big. I can't describe how big it is for me," said defensive end Cliff Avril, who signed with the Seahawks as a free agent. "It took six years for me to just get to this position. I didn't win any games my rookie year, so for me to be here right now - it's huge and we have to definitely soak it all in and have fun with it and make sure we go out there and play our best."

In moments like these, with what may be the opportunity of a lifetime for some of these players, playing their best is the only option because when you catch lightning in a bottle, you just don't know how long it will last.