The second game of the divisional playoffs had the Carolina Panthers traveling across the country to Seattle, Washington to face the Seattle Seahawks. The Panthers were coming off a 27-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals and the Seahawks were coming off a bye week. This game looked like a chess match early as both defenses were playing very well. But with 2:27 to go in the first quarter, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton fumbled and the ball was recovered by defensive tackle Tony McDaniel at the Carolina 28-yard line. On third and nine from the 16, quarterback Russell Wilson fired a pass down the middle that was caught by wide receiver Doug Baldwin for a touchdown. Kicker Steven Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 7-0 with just under a minute to go in the first quarter.
The Panthers got the ball back at their 21 and a 15-yard run by running back Jonathan Stewart and a 14-yard completion to wide receiver Philly Brown quickly moved the ball to mid-field. Some carries by Newton, Stewart and running back DeAngelo Williams kept the drive moving deep into Seattle territory. On third and six from the seven, Newton threw for the end zone and the pass was caught by rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for a touchdown. Kicker Graham Gano made the point after and the score was tied 7-7 with 7:44 to go in the second quarter.
The Seahawks didn’t waste much time regaining the lead. After a couple of carries by running back Marshawn Lynch, Wilson went deep up the left side for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. He hauled it in for a 63-yard touchdown. Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks went up 14-7 with 4:54 to go in the second quarter.
The Panthers took over at their 21 and on third and ten, Newton connected with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery for a gain of 13 yards. An 11-yard catch by wide receiver Brenton Bersin and a facemask penalty on the Seahawks gave the Panthers a first down at the Seattle 36-yard line. They would get down to the 17 and the drive stalled there. Gano would come in for a 35-yard field goal attempt. During this attempt, safety Kam Chancellor would jump over the line in hopes of blocking the attempt. Somehow, the kick wasn’t blocked and it was good. But it didn’t count due to a false start. So, they tried another field goal from 40 yards out. Once again, Chancellor jumped over the line and the kick was blocked. Wait a minute. We seem to have yet another flag on the ground. Chancellor was flagged for running into the kicker. So they moved the ball up five yards and Gano tried yet another 35-yard field goal. This time it was good and the Seahawks led 14-10 at halftime.
The first eight minutes of the third quarter looked a lot like the first quarter. Both defenses were playing very well and neither team could even get into field goal range. With 6:27 to go in the third quarter, the Seahawks got the ball back at their 12-yard line. A 14-yard scramble by Wilson, a five-yard penalty on the Panthers and a completion to tight end Luke Willson netted a first down at the 41. Lynch got loose for a 25-yard gain and a pass interference penalty on the Panthers gave the Seahawks a first down at the Carolina 25-yard line. Some more running by Lynch and running back Robert Turbin got them down to the three-yard line. From the three, Wilson took the snap and was sacked by linebacker Thomas Davis for a loss of 12 yards. Hauschka came into the game and his 30-yard field goal attempt was good. The Seahawks were now up 17-10 with 14:55 to go in the game.
The Panthers took over at their 20 and three plays gained minus one yard. Punter Brad Nortman punted the ball away and the Seahawks took over at their 42-yard line. On third and six from the 46, Wilson hooked up with Willson again for a gain of 29 and a first down at the 25-yard line. Three plays later, the Wilson to Willson connection worked again for a 25-yard touchdown. Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 24-10 with 10:26 to go in the game.
The Panthers started at their 20 and Newton immediately took to the air. Completions to Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen had them moving in the right direction. On first down from the 50, Newton completed a 31-yard pass to Olsen. That was followed by a six-yard scramble by Newton. On second and four from the 13, Newton threw to his right in hopes of completing a pass to tight end Ed Dickson. That’s when our friend Kam Chancellor made another appearance. He jumped the route, picked off the pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 31-10 with 5:55 to go in the game. That interception basically sealed the deal for the Seahawks. Benjamin would catch another touchdown pass later in the game, but it was too little and too late for the Panthers. The Seahawks went on to win 31-17.
For the Panthers, Cam Newton completed 26 of 36 for 246 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kelvin Benjamin led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 75 and two touchdowns. Jonathan Stewart led the team in rushing with 70 yards on 13 carries. As a team, the Panthers rushed for 132 yards on 32 carries. Defensively, linebacker Thomas Davis led the team in solo tackles with six. He also had one sack.
For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 15 of 22 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Luke Willson had the most receptions with four and one touchdown. Jermaine Kearse led the team in receiving yards with 129 and one touchdown. On the ground, the Seahawks found it pretty difficult to move the ball. Marshawn Lynch led the team in rushing with 59 yards on 14 carries. 25 of those yards came on one carry. As a team, the Seahawks rushed for 100 yards on 28 carries. Defensively, safety Kam Chancellor led the team in solo tackles with nine and he also made the play of the game with a 90-yard interception return.
Up next for the Seahawks will be a visit from the Green Bay Packers. The winner of that game will be crowned champion of the NFC. That game will be played on Sunday at 3:05 eastern time.