Seattle Seahawks Defeat Carolina Panthers 13-9 With Late Burst Of Life


It seemed like the end of the road for the Seattle Seahawks. All the years quietly building one of the youngest, most dangerous teams in recent memory seemed like it had been for naught, as the Hawks appeared to be trudging their way toward their third consecutive defeat. With this loss would come the end of a very short reign of dominance, much shorter than anyone could have ever expected. This would be the defining moment of the wasted season that wasn’t supposed to be.

Except that after a sluggish first half, the Seahawks came alive. It took a long time – all of three quarters, really – but in the end the Seahawks did just enough on defense to keep things close going into the final minutes. While Russell Wilson was trying in vain to get his offense going, Cam Newton was seemingly doing everything right – except finishing drives. Seattle’s vaunted defense couldn’t stop the Panthers until they absolutely had to, showing crazy energy under high pressure and limiting Carolina to only field goals.

Despite not being able to score a touchdown, Carolina dominated time of possession and yards in the first half. Seattle, meanwhile, racked up three-and-outs and missed several opportunities to intercept the football. The offense looked divided and helpless, while Carolina used the air and the ground, the sides and the middle, the short and the long, all to their advantage. Those late stops are really all that held the Seahawks together through the first 30 minutes.

If you watched the first half, then maybe you’re stunned by the end-of-game stats. Seattle (19) converted more first downs than Carolina (17). They finished with more yards on the ground and from the pass. They were much more efficient on third down. And they finally made good on an interception, with Marcus Burley picking off Cam Newton and running 24 yards the other way. That play, of course, ended up as a critical field goal by Steven Hauschka.

Speaking of Hauschka, he set a new personal best in the second quarter with a 58 yard field goal. It was a risky ploy that paid off handsomely for the Seahawks, who really needed to put points on the board after looking so dismal in the first quarter. The kick was a beauty, and served as a nice reminder of how important Hauschka is to this team.

Another important player was Doug Baldwin, who led the team with six receptions for 61 yards. Rookie Paul Richardson had a huge game, catching two passes for 20 yards while also serving as kick returner, where he made two returns for a total of 73 yards. He was also targeted deep down the field a couple times, and while he wasn’t able to make any long catches, it’s at least encouraging to see the Hawks trying him out in this role. I mean, it’s not like someone has to do it, but it’s nice to have that option.

With 4:37 to go, the scoring had still been done exclusively be Hauschka and Graham Gano. Thus began Dangeruss’s last chance to take the ball into the endzone. Starting their drive at the 20, Wilson hit Cooper Helfet for 11 yards, Kevin Norwood for 10, and rushed for 14 after a false start penalty on Carolina. The Hawks drove all the way to the 23 yard line, where Wilson found Luke Willson down the middle for a touchdown pass with :47 to play.

Holding on to a four point lead with less than a minute to play, it was obvious what the Seahawks needed to do to eeek out a win: shut down the Panthers right away, as opposed to waiting until things had gotten dire. Starting on their own 23, Carolina went down as follows: incomplete pass, false start penalty, Bruce Irvin sack for a loss of seven, timeout, Bruce Irvin sack for a loss of three, timeout, incomplete pass. The Seahawks even came close to a safety towards the end of the drive. It was a thoroughly dominant conclusion to a game that the Hawks were seemingly trying to lose for the first half hour, at least.

The Seahawks now sit at 4-3, tied with the San Francisco 49ers for second place in the intensely competitive NFC West. San Fran is in their bye week, while the division-leading Arizona Cardinals are going up against the Philadelphia Eagles. While we’re all likely to spend our evenings actively rooting for the Cardinals, let’s not let this game slip too quickly from our minds. It was essentially a must-win game for the Hawks, and while it sort of feels like they stole this one, let’s not forget how legitimately good that third quarter was. Watch out, NFL: the Seattle Seahawks are coming alive.