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Seahawks rally for 12-7 win over Panthers

Posted Sep 8, 2013

It wasn’t easy, or pretty, but the Seahawks found a way to outlast the Carolina Panthers 12-7 in their season opener at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Well, you can take this one to the bank.

Bank of America Stadium, that is, where the Seahawks used a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse on Sunday to grab a 12-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers in their season opener.

The victory set the stage for what should be a dousy of home opener next Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.

After Wilson’s touchdown pass to Kearse with 10:13 to play, the Seahawks went for the two-point conversion. But Wilson’s pass to Doug Baldwin was incomplete. It didn’t matter, as it was enough to secure the tough victory.

Kearse got behind Panthers cornerback Josh Thomas and then jumped over him to catch Wilson’s pass. On the previous play, Wilson went to Stephen Williams up the same sideline against the same defender, but Williams couldn’t hold the pass as he hit the ground.

Wilson was 3 of 4 for 60 yards on the six-play, 74-yard drive.

The Panthers came right back, driving to the Seahawks’ 24-yard line. But All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas forced a fumble on DeAngelo Williams that was recovered by defensive tackle Tony McDaniel at the Seattle 8 with 5:25 to play.

The Panthers took the opening kickoff and drove to the Seahawks’ 41-yard line, but All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman broke up – and almost intercepted – Cam Newton’s third-down pass to Steve Smith to end the possession.

The Seahawks’ possession stalled, as Russell Wilson was almost sacked in the end zone on second down, but Jon Ryan kicked them out of the hole with a 69-yard punt. Ryan also got off a 55-yarder, kicking the Seahawks out of a hole on the first punt and changing field position on the second.

On a third-and-7 play, tight end Greg Olsen appeared to have caught a first-down pass from Newton. But All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas got a hand in to break it up.

After a scoreless first quarter, both teams got busy in the second quarter.

The Seahawks’ 74-yard drive that began at the end of the first quarter ended with Steven Hauschka’s 27-yard field goal with 9:36 left in the half. Russell Wilson kept the 15-play, almost nine-minute drive alive by going 4 of 4 on third downs for 53 yards, including a 25-yarder to Doug Baldwin to the Panthers’ 11.

The Panthers then drove 80 yards in 11 plays to Cam Newton’s 3-yard TD pass to Steve Smith with 3:13 left. Newton was 6 of 7 for 52 yards and also ran once for 11 yards on the drive. Newton’s 27-yard pass to Olson on the second play of the drive came after the Seahawks had grabbed the momentum, and the lead. But Newton laid a pass over middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and in front of strong safety Kam Chancellor for the longest play of the long TD drive. The Panthers had four double-digit gains on their TD drive – Newton’s 27-yard pass to Olson; Newton’s 10-yard pass to DeAngelo Williams; Newton’s 11-yard run; and a 12-yard run by Williams.

The Seahawks then drove to the Panthers’ 12, but Charles Johnson turned in a hat trick – a fumble-forcing sack that he recovered to halt the series.

The Seahawks got the ball twice to open the second half, once on the opening kick and again after Chris Maragos recovered a Jon Ryan punt that was touched by the Panthers’ Josh Thomas. But the Seahawks were unable to take advantage of either opportunity.

On the first possession, left guard Paul McQuistan and left tackle Russell Okung were called for holding on the same lay. Only the one on McQuistan was accepted, nullifying a third-down pass to Sidney Rice that would have been a first down.

The Panthers then had a second-and-2 on their next possession, but Tony McDaniel stopped Williams for a 1-yard gain on second and no gain on third down.

The Seahawks got on the board again with 2:22 left as Hauschka kicked a 40-yard field goal to cap a nine-play, 43-yard drive. Wilson was 5 of 5 for 52 yards, but also penalized for grounding.