CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks defense were too much for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to overcome.
Wilson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate with 35 seconds left in the third quarter to help the Seahawks beat the Panthers 16-12 on Sunday.
Wilson shook off two third quarter interceptions — including one that was returned for a touchdown — and outperformed Newton on a struggle-filled day for the Carolina offense, which finished with only 190 yards.
Wilson threw for 221 yards, while Marshawn Lynch ran for 85 yards for the Seahawks (3-2).
Newton threw for 141 yards on 12-for-29 passing and he was sacked four times. The Panthers’ only touchdown came on Captain Munnerlyn’s 33-yard interception return early in the third quarter.
Carolina started the season with plenty of optimism with the return of Newton to lead a high-scoring offense, but the Panthers (1-4) couldn’t rebound a week after losing 30-28 to the Falcons on Matt Bryant’s field goal with 5 seconds left.
The Panthers had two chances to take the lead in the final minutes on Sunday, the first when they drove all the way to the Seattle 1-yard line with about 4 minutes left.
On a fourth down play, Newton rolled to his right and spotted Ben Hartsock open in the end zone, but he threw a one-hopper on the short pass to give the ball back to Seattle.
Then, after the Seahawks took an intentional safety, Carolina got the ball back at its own 31 with 54 seconds left and no timeouts.
After a first down incompletion, Seattle’s Bruce Irvin came around the right side and stripped Newton from behind as the quarterback tried to load up for a throw.
The ball hit the turf, and Alan Branch recovered to seal the victory for the Seahawks.
The game marked a homecoming of sorts for Wilson, who first gained acclaim as a quarterback at North Carolina State. He also played minor league baseball in Asheville and Gastonia before returning to college football and finishing up at Wisconsin.
The rookie hadn’t thrown for more than 160 yards in a game until Sunday, but didn’t panic when he threw the two interceptions and bought time with his mobility on several plays to help the Seahawks keep drives going.
After a fumble by DeAngelo Williams gave Seattle a short field, Wilson moved the Seahawks to the Carolina 13 then found Tate over the middle for a short throw. Tate spun off a hit from Thomas Davis around the 4 then ran into the end zone for the 13-10 lead.
Steven Hauschka added his third field goal to make it 16-10 with about 10½ minutes left.
Lynch, the NFL’s leading rusher for the season’s first month, reached 85 yards rushing for the 13th time in 14 games. That included when he had a spinning 11-yard run on a third-and-7 for a first down that helped the Seahawks use more clock after the Panthers’ stalled late drive.
The Panthers’ offense, which was supposed to be the team’s strength coming into the season, never found a rhythm while Newton was frequently off target.
Newton missed on 12 of 15 passes and threw for just 40 yards in the opening 30 minutes, while the Panthers managed just 93 yards and seven first downs.
Carolina went three-and-out on three of its five first-half possessions, with its only sustained drive being a 77-yard push just before halftime that ended with a field goal with 2 seconds left before the break.