(Reuters) - The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers 31-17 on Saturday, putting them one win away from a return trip to the NFL's championship game.
The top-seeded Seahawks, who are trying to become the NFL's first repeat champion in 10 years, used a suffocating defense and explosive fourth quarter to put what had been a close game out of reach.
Seattle's Russell Wilson completed 15 of 22 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns, including a team postseason record 63-yard scoring pass to Jermaine Kearse in the second quarter.
Seattle will play the winner of Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 18 with a berth in the Feb. 1 Super Bowl on the line.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Gene Cherry)