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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It wasn’t exactly textbook. And it definitely wasn’t pretty.
But the Seahawks found a way to take a 16-12 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of American Stadium on Sunday, as Russell Wilson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate, Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals and the defense, again, did its thing.
The victory was the first on the road for the Seahawks this season, after they had lost at Arizona and St. Louis. It also allowed them to move above .500 at 3-2 as they prepare to face the New England Patriots at CenturyLink Field next Sunday – in what will be their only home game in a five-week stretch that also includes games at San Francisco, a week from Thursday, and at Detroit, on Oct. 28.
The Panthers drove to the Seahawks’ 1-yard line in the closing minutes, but the Seahawks denied them on third down and Cam Newton threw incomplete into the end on fourth down.
In a nutshell: Seahawks 16-12. Pretty? Not exactly. But for the Seahawks, there’s definitely nothing ugly about a road victory. Steven Hauschka’s third field goal – a 44-yarder with 10:27 left – provided the final margin of victory.
On a third-and-goal play from the 6, Marcus Trufant got Louis Murphy around the legs and Brandon Browner smacked him high to prevent the Panthers’ wide receiver from getting into the end zone. The play set up Newton’s incomplete pass and the Seahawks took over on downs.
To start the game, the Seahawks jumped to a 3-0 lead as they drove to a 22-yard field goals by Steven Hauschka on their opening drive, and Wilson was 6 of 7 for 68 yards in the quarter. Threes were wild on that opening drive as Wilson (No. 3) completed three passes (in four attempts for 37 yards); Marshawn Lynch carried three times (for 4 yards); and the eight-play drive took 3:33.
The Panthers had produced three first downs in moving from the 5-yard line to the 46 later in the quarter. But on third-and-7, rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner chased Cam Newton down and tackled the Panthers’ QB for a 4-yard sack.
The Seahawks took a 6-3 halftime lead as they drove 50 yards in 12 plays to Hauschka’s 36-yard field goal to open the quarter, and the Panthers then drove 77 yards in 12 plays to Justin Medlock’s 32-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the half.
The Seahawks’ defense held the Panthers to three points, 93 yards – with 77 coming on the final drive – and one conversion in six third-down situations in the first half. Before that final drive, the Panthers had gone thee-and-out on three of their previous four possessions in the half. The Seahawks also got to Cam Newton for a pair of sacks by Wagner and rookie rush-end Bruce Irvin.
Wilson was 12 of 13 for 123 yards in the first half, and his 11-yard pass to Sidney Rice on third-and-5, which followed Wilson being sacked for a 4-yard loss on second down, got Hauschka close enough for his second field goal of the half.
The Seahawks lost 76 of offense in the first half on two holding penalties by tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung. Giacomini’s holding penalty nullified Wilson’s 56-yard completion to Golden Tate in the first quarter. Okung’s holding penalty erased a 20-yard run by Marshawn Lynch in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Russell Wilson giveth, and Wilson taketh back. The Panthers took a 10-6 when cornerback Captain Munnerlyn intercepted a Wilson pass and returned it for the touchdown with 12:26 to play in the quarter. But Wilson then passed to Golden Tate for a 13-yard TD with 35 seconds left. The Seahawks got the ball at the Carolina 27 when cornerback Brandon Browner ripped the ball from the grasp of DeAngelo Williams and then recovered the fumble.
On a second-and-8 play from their own 19-yard line – and from a two-tight end, two-running back formation – Wilson went to tight end Anthony McCoy. But he threw the ball slightly behind McCoy and Munnerlyn picked it off and returned it 33 yards for the first touchdown of the game. It was only Wilson’s second incompletion of the game after he went 12 of 13 in the first half.