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The Carolina Panthers’ only two Pro Bowl players had a big impact on Sunday’s game, and are in line for big raises.

Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was perplexed Monday, wondering aloud why he was being asked about the Panthers during Super Bowl week. “Aren’t we playing the Patriots?” Wagner said. The Panthers-Seahawks series – Wagner won’t call it a rivalry – will resume next fall in Seattle.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft went on the offensive Monday, saying he believes his team did not break NFL rules by using footballs inflated below league specifications in its AFC Championship Game victory against Indianapolis.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught two touchdown passes in a losing effort Sunday as Team (Michael) Irvin beat Team (Cris) Carter 32-28 in front of a sellout crowd of 63,225 at University of Phoenix Stadium in the Pro Bowl.

The Super Bowl, at its most basic level, is a game that determines the NFL championship.

The NFL and the New England Patriots would love to take the air out of the biggest controversy heading into Super Bowl week. But Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks wasn't playing along Sunday when asked about the so-called "Deflate-gate" matter, and whether he expected the Patriots would be punished if found guilty of playing with deflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

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AFC Championship: Patriots 45, Colts 7  | 01.18.15

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Follow the Carolina Panthers with exclusive coverage from The Charlotte Observer.

Photos from the Green Bay Packers at The Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship: Seattle 28, Green Bay 22  | 01.18.15
~ Panthers memorabilia for sale 01.14.15
~ Rivera, Gettleman talk to the media

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