CHARLOTTE—The Seahawks responded to their worst loss of the season by bouncing back with their seventh road victory of the season, beating the Carolina Panthers 30-24 at Bank of America Stadium.
The win improves Seattle's record to 11-3 and gives them a franchise-best 7-1 road record for the season. The win, combined with the LA Ram's loss to the Dallas Cowboys, clinches a playoff berth for the Seahawks, their eighth in 10 seasons under Pete Carroll and John Schneider.
Here are five rapid reactions to the Seahawks' win:
1. Russell Wilson and the offense came out on fire.
The Seahawks went without an offensive touchdown last week, but on Sunday Russell Wilson and the offense marched down the field for touchdowns on each of Seattle's first three possessions. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that's the first time since Week 11 of the 2015 season that the Seahawks have scored touchdowns on their first three possessions.
Wilson, who had a perfect passer rating in the first half, and finished 20 for 26 for 286 yards and a 137.7 rating, hit DK Metcalf and Tyler Locket for touchdowns, found Lockett for a 44-yard gain to set up one score, then connected with Josh Gordon for a 58-yard gain to set up another.
2. Tyler Lockett is all the way back.
It's been a tough month for Tyler Lockett, who has dealt with a shin contusion that led to a two-night hospital stay, followed by a nasty bout with the flu. Between all of that, and some good defenses that put a lot of effort into taking away the deep passing game, Lockett has had a quiet few games, but on Sunday he looked very much like his old self.
Lockett finished with eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown, and could have had even more had Wilson not slightly overthrown him on a third-quarter deep ball.
Wilson found Lockett for one of the biggest plays of the game, a third-and-11 conversion that kept the Seahawks from having to punt with just over two minutes left and a 6-point lead. Instead, Chris Carson and the offense were able to close out the game.
3. With the Seahawks short-handed on defense, the old guard came through.
The Seahawks came into the game down four starters due to injury—linebacker Mychal Kendricks, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah—then they lost Quandre Diggs to an ankle injury during the game.
But despite so many key players, the defense made enough plays to help the Seahawks to a win. Most notably, the two most experienced players on the team came through, with K.J. Wright intercepting Kyle Allen twice in the span of three defensive plays, and with Bobby Wagner recording 10 tackles and a very impressive interception that likely prevented points late in the half. Unfortunately, however, Wagner left the game with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, and probably not coincidentally, his absence coincided with the Panthers scoring two late touchdowns after the Seahawks had built a 20-point lead.
Rookie Cody Barton, who had 10 tackles, might have gotten in on the interception party as well had Wagner not tipped a ball at the line of scrimmage.
4. Rasheem Green and Poona Ford both came through with big plays.
With the Seahawks missing two of their top pass-rushers, somebody on the defensive lined was going to have to make plays, and two players who have been playing very well of late came through again.
Rasheem Green, who has forced two fumbles in the past three games, added another sack to what has been an impressive stretch of games for the second-year defensive end. Poona Ford, meanwhile, had a tackle for loss on a running play, as well as a tipped pass that led to Wright's first interception.
5. Chris Carson had another huge game.
With Rashaad Penny out for the season, Chris Carson knew more of the running game could fall on him the rest of the way, and he responded in a big way Sunday, rushing for a career-high 133 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Carson, who scored on a 16-yard run early in the game, helped put it away late with a powerful 6-yard run on fourth-and-inches.
It was Carson's sixth 100-yard game this season, and he is now up to 1,190 yards this season, a new career high that eclipsed last year's total of 1,151 yards.