Seahawks’ defense shuts down Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There would be no Superman poses in the back of the end zone for Carolina’s Cam Newton.

Seattle’s stingy defense discovered the kryptonite for one of the league’s most explosive offenses, holding the Panthers’ offense to 190 total yards.

“I’m privileged to play on a defense like this,” Seattle defensive end Red Bryant said. “I’ve never played on a defense this good, this talented. At every position someone can take over the game. I’m glad we got the win today.”

Entering Sunday’s contest, Carolina had been averaging 10 explosive plays a contest — passes of 16 or more yards, or runs of 12 yards or more.

But Carolina finished with just six of those plays on Sunday, and failed to score a touchdown on offense.

Seattle’s suffocating defense has only given up two touchdowns the last four games.

“That was an extraordinary job by our defense, because that’s the most explosive team that we’ve faced,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “They’ve proven last year with their numbers, and again coming in with 40-something (43) explosive plays coming into this game. To throw together a defensive effort like that I think is really a statement about our guys.”

Stopping Carolina’s spread option attack was a point of emphasis for Seattle all week, as they focused on maintaining their assignments and staying home defensively.

But one critical play at the end of the game demonstrated the Seahawks’ razor-like focus on defense.

Carolina had the ball on Seattle’s 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal with about four minutes remaining in the game, trailing 16-10.

And with 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton under center, everyone in the stadium sensed a quarterback sneak would be the call, with Newton jumping over the pile for a score.

Except for Seattle safety Earl Thomas. Because of the team’s success against opposing teams in snuffing out runs near the goal line with run blitzes by Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor, Thomas thought the Panthers might throw instead.

“If I make up my mind, I’m blitzing,” Thomas said. “I don’t care really what the call was. If I feel like it’s a run in a crucial situation, I’m gone. And they see that on film.”

Newton said that he had a run-pass option, but audibled to a pass at the line of scrimmage.

Thomas believes that Newton seeing Seattle’s tendency to blitz in those situations played a role in the Carolina quarterback changing the play.

Cornerback Brandon Browner also played an important role in setting up the situation. Without Seattle’s big corner keeping Carolina receiver Louis Murphy out of the end zone on third down with a sure tackle in front of the goal line, the Seahawks would have not had an opportunity for the big stop.

Browner also had a key play that set up Seattle’s go-ahead touchdown, stringing out an option play, and then tackling Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams behind the line of scrimmage, stripping him of the ball and recovering it Carolina’s 27-yard line.

Golden Tate put Seattle up for good five plays later on a 13-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Russell Wilson.

“Brandon’s play where he takes the ball from him on the option was a terrific play,” Carroll said. “But then he makes a terrific tackle to put them in fourth-and-1 there, when most of the time guys get in the end zone. But he just didn’t let it happen.”

The Panthers had one final opportunity to take the lead at the end of the game, but rookie Bruce Irvin sacked Newton and forced him to fumble on second-and-10 from Carolina’s 31-yard line, with fellow defensive lineman Alan Branch recovering the ball with 49 seconds to play in the game.

Irvin finished with two sacks on the day, and leads all rookies with 4.5 sacks for the season.

“It was awesome to see Bruce be that productive and make big plays when it’s most needed,” Carroll said. “To see him knock that ball out to finish and win it was really cool.”

More in Sports

Dedication drives local coaches into 100-Season Club

Commitment to student-athletes is a hallmark of the area’s longest-tenured coaches.

Everett’s Tori Odom, right, attempts a shot with Edmonds’ Jake Higgins defending Saturday night at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center in Everett on January 20, 2018. The Trojans won 117-100. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
EvCC races past EdCC in NWAC North showdown

Gio Jackson scores 32 points to lead the Trojans over the Tritons 117-100.

Former QB on Schottenheimer: ‘He’s a win-first’ OC

Kellen Clemens has had the new Seahawks’ play-caller as his coordinator for 7 of his 11 NFL seasons.

Huskies men overcome slow start to beat Colorado

Jaylen Nowell scores 19 points and Matisse Thybulle adds 18 in UW’s 72-62 win.

Silvertips blank Brandon Wheat Kings for 6th straight win

Carter Hart tallies his league-best sixth shutout as Everett tops Brandon 4-0.

No. 13 Gonzaga bounces back to beat Santa Clara

After suffering their first conference loss of the season, the Bulldogs beat Santa Clara 75-60.

Saturday’s prep scores, links to recaps

BOYS BASKETBALL Non-conference Renton 51, King’s 46 Cashmere 61, Granite Falls 32… Continue reading

BLOG: Carter Hart one shutout away from tying WHL record

The Game The Silvertips were in control from the get-go in a… Continue reading

Lake Stevens girls show grit in 66-58 win over Glacier Peak

The Vikings rally from 13 down at half to take over sole possession of 1st place in Wesco 4A.

Most Read