The Seattle Seahawks traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina for its NFL 2013 season opener, beating the Carolina Panthers 12 – 7 in a game that looked like it might slip away from Seattle in the fourth quarter when Carolina sustained a 56 yard drive before fumbling the ball at the Seahawks 8-yard line with 5:25 left to play.
Seattle trailed most of the game after scoring first on a 27 yard field goal in the second quarter, when Carolina answered by driving the ball 82 yards for a 3 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cam Newton to wide receiver Steve Smith.
In a game where both offenses (combined) gained 623 total yards, the game "felt" like there should be more points on the board but, neither defense would yield.
Seattle trailed 3-7 late in the 3rd quarter before kicking its second field goal of the day to inch closer 6-7.
On the ensuing kickoff the Panthers moved the ball to their own 42-yard line but after an untimely holding penalty its offense was unable to get a much needed first down and was forced to punt the ball with 4th-and-2 from the 50-yard line.
The 44 yard punt sailed high to Golden Tate returning 14 yards to the Seahawks 26-yard line. With 12:58 remaining in the game Seattle's young, disciplined offense went to work against an improved and determined Carolina defense.
Four plays later Seattle was on the Carolina 42-yard line with a 1st-and-10. Head Coach Pete Carroll gambled and called a bomb. From the shotgun, quarterback Russell Wilson let the ball fly down the right sideline to 6' 5" 208lb wide receiver Stephen Williams. The pass looked perfect as Williams dove, stretching his body in flight — the ball landing in both his hands. Unfortunately, when Williams hit the ground he didn't hold on and the pass was incomplete.
After the game Carroll said they noticed Williams had gotten out behind the Panther corner
Stevie got behind him pretty clearly and we just didn't hook up on that one so we had a play that had a shot there (again) if it was there.
It was 2nd-and-10 and the hunch paid off for Seattle, this time to former Washington Husky Jermaine kearse. On the snap, the Seahawks' wide receiver beat the Panthers' cornerback Josh Thomas who trailed him by a step-and-a-half and at the 2-yard line Kearse turned and went up for the ball catching it and falling backwards into the end zone behind the corner and late arriving safety. Seattle went for a 2-point conversion and failed but with 10:13 left to play the Seahawks led the Panthers 12-7.
After the kickoff the Panthers took over at their own 20-yard line and the table was set for Cam Newton to control the ball, chew up the clock, and move his team up field for a go ahead touchdown.
To Seahawks fans it looked like the Panther quarterback was going to do just that as he moved the ball over mid-field to the Seahawks forty-three. Seattle was penalized nine times for 99 yards against the Panthers Sunday and two of those penalties came back-to-back during this crucial drive — both personal fouls. One against defensive end Michael Bennett and the other against safety Kam Chancellor on a questionable late hit.
The drive also highlighted Panther running back DeAngelo Williams who appeared to shoot through the Seahawks defensive line and pop into its secondary with impunity. On the last play of the drive, with about 5:30 left to play Carolina was on Seattle's own 32-yard line and Williams busted up the middle, running straight at Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas. Williams (17 carries, 86 yards, 5.1 ave.) dodged Thomas with a stiff-arm and cut outside into open field heading toward the end zone.
Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman had had just about enough of the pesky running back and met him at the 10-yard line with a devastating hit. With help on the way, Sherman didn't even attempt to wrap-up Williams but instead drove his shoulder pads straight into the ball, jolting it out and away from the protection of his body. Thomas, in relentless hot pursuit got the assist with a ball stripping tackle and Seattle recovered the fumble at its own 8-yard line.
Seattle was able to move the ball in the final 5-minutes with four crucial first downs, ending the game on a knee at the Panthers 24-yard line.
GAME NOTE: Russell Wilson (25/33 – 320 yds – 1 TD) Joined former Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn as the only other quarterback in franchise history to pass for over 300 yards in a season opener. Zorn threw for 329 yards against the Chargers in 1978.
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