A week after blowing a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Seattle Seahawks were unable to hold a lead over the Carolina Panthers. The Hawks fell 27-23, falling to 2-4 on the season.
Last week, the question of hitting the panic button came up. It may be time to readdress the question and inch closer towards that button. In back to back weeks, the Seahawks defence has failed to hold a fourth quarter lead over opponents. In all fairness, both of those teams are extremely resilient and undefeated; however, what gives?
Perhaps the Panthers were snoozing early in the game, as the fire alarm on their hotel floor was set off at approximately 6:00 a.m.
Fire alarm at 530am ????????????????????????
— Jonathan Stewart (@Jonathanstewar1) October 18, 2015
The Panthers took the lead early on a run-in by quarterback Cam Newton, going up 7-3. Despite his early and latter heroics, Cam had difficulty with the defence, as he threw two interceptions, giving the Seahawks three for the season.
Marshawn Lynch, who was returning from his hamstring injury, put the Hawks up 10-7. In his first game back, Lynch rushed 17 times for 54 yards and a score.
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In the third quarter, it looked like the Seahawks were beginning to put the Panthers in their rear-view when they executed a ridiculous flea-flicker gadget play involving Lynch, which culminated in Ricardo Lockette touchdown, which put the Hawks up 17-7. Seattle followed this up with a Steven Hauschka field goal, one of his three for the day. And that’s when the tide began to turn.
Carolina running back, Jonathan Stewart scored his first of two touchdowns, making it 20-14. Seattle didn’t sit back, and chose to attack. Russell Wilson drove the ball downfield, connecting with tight end Jimmy Graham on a monster play in the process. Graham was unleashed on the Panthers, catching 8 balls for 140 yards. That drive resulted in another Hauschka field goal.
Newton, who is known for his Superman celebration, stepped into the phone booth, changed, came out, and took control of the game.
The first drive was capped off with the second Jonathan Stewart touchdown. The second drive was an absolute dissection of the Seattle secondary. Newton utilized his thing receiving corps, and capped off that drive with a dazzling 26 yard pass to tight end Greg Olsen, putting the Panthers up 27-23. In the fourth quarter, Newton was 12 for 15, throwing for a whopping 169 yards.
At the end of the Olsen score, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor could be seen arguing about whose responsibility it was to cover Olsen, as he ran past them uncontested. The Seahawks have the personnel to get the job done, but it appears that communication could be an issue with this defence. Despite the late meltdown, the Seahawks had two interceptions and three sacks in the game.
Seattle’s defence took hits over the summer, losing Dan Quinn to a coaching job in Atlanta, as well as the lengthy Chancellor holdout.
Whatever the issues are, they will need to be fixed quick, as Seattle does not have the type of offence that can afford to allow points, especially considering the amount of pressure that Wilson has been facing. For the third game in a row, Wilson was sacked four times. He was still able to throw for 241 yards and a touchdown, as well as pick up 53 yards on the ground.
Despite their woes, Seattle was able to get Graham going, which is an encouraging sign. A game like today’s is what Graham is capable of doing on a regular basis, and Seattle needs to continue to utilize this weapon.
On Thursday, the Seahawks will visit the improving 49ers.