Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 30-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium:
The Seahawks’ offense had a nice bounce back from its disappointing performance in a 28-12 loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week. Seattle came out firing, scoring touchdowns on its first three drives for the first time since 2015. Running back Chris Carson abused the league’s 29th-ranked run defense, rushing for 133 yards on 24 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Quarterback Russell Wilson was back to his MVP-like ways, going 20-for-26 for 286 yards and two touchdowns, plus he improvised his way to first downs at important moments. The offense bogged down when it should have put the game away in the fourth quarter, but for the most part it was a positive outing.
For 53 minutes this was a strong performance by the Seattle defense. Despite the absence of four starters, the Seahawks kept the Panthers — largely a Christian McCaffrey one-man show — bottled up, thanks in large part to three interceptions. But middle linebacker and defensive captain Bobby Wagner went down with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter and immediately things changed. Carolina marched right down the field for two long touchdown drives over the course of four minutes, and had the Panthers’ defense been able to make a late stop, one wouldn’t have bet against Carolina driving for the winning TD.
Punter Michael Dickson wasn’t called into action often, but when he was, he did an excellent job of pinning the Panthers deep in their own half of the field. Kicker Jason Myers doinked an extra point off the right upright, and it’s a little worrisome that he’s now missed four extra-point attempts this season. The game was almost completely devoid of returns, and there were no issues when Carolina attempted its late onside kicks.
First off, big-time credit has to be given to the staff for having the Seahawks prepared for the long trips east all season long, as Seattle finished 5-0 in games in the Eastern time zone, all of which started at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Other than that, it was a real mixed bag. The Seahawks showed good balance and creativity on offense en route to TDs on their first three drives. But the run game got lost during the middle part of the game, there were curious decisions made on whether to be aggressive offensively in tight situations, and the soft defense in the fourth quarter helped a Carolina team that had accomplished nothing through the air make it a game at the end.
Seattle, which had a 30-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter, is just incapable of playing drama-free games. But as long as the Seahawks win those games, that’s all that matters. Seattle finished with a phenomenal 7-1 record on the road this season, setting a franchise record for road wins, and now the Seahawks come home for their final two regular-season games knowing that if they win out — including their regular-season finale against San Francisco — the NFC West championship is theirs.