NFL Divisional Playoffs Indepth Recap: Seahawks v Panthers
Panthers 31 Seahawks 24
A big lead at the half would not be a shocker if the #1 seeded 15-1 Carolina Panthers were whooping up on any ole team. Embarrassing the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks was nothing short of inexplicable.
The game saw the return of both team’s starting running backs. Lynch returned from an eight game absence only to be stacked up at the line on the vast majority of his carries.
Jonathan Stewart, however, had a field day with his fresh legs from his two week rest. Stewart started the flood of dominance early with a 59 yard sprint up the middle on the reportedly amped up Seattle defense.
Stewart would get the score and the fantasy points just three plays later from inside the five. 7-0 Carolina.
The entire Hawks defense including the Legion of Boom would be silent the entire first half.
Seattle’s first drive was a gift in the form of a pick six from Wilson to Luke Kuechly on the second play from Seattle. 14-0 Carolina. If the Hawks had any illusion about being able to get behind like they did against Green Bay last year and end up winning, they had best check the complete team staring them down across the field.
Carolina’s O-line dominated on the next possession after a Seattle punt, using cement block Mike Tolbert and Greg Olsen on a big 27 yard catch. The drive ended with Stewart’s second rushing TD of the game. 21-0, beatdown in progress.
Russell Wilson likes a challenge but giving up his second pick of the game on his next opportunity with the football may have given Carolina one too many gifts. Luckily Carolina was only able to turn that pick into a field goal to make it 24-0.
The Panthers had the antidote for all the deep balls Wilson has hit lately. I don’t know if Doug Baldwin was ever open or not since Wilson was pressured on every throw so he had no time to throw the deep ball. Another punt.
The home team kept rolling with their defense ripping whatever manhood was left on the Seattle sidelines. Cam Newton took the team down for another touchdown, this time a 20 yard spiral of perfection to Greg Olsen with Jeremy Lane hanging onto the tight end’s beard. 31-0 with the PAT and Carolina officials busing kids into the stadium to ensure there were enough youngsters on hand to keep receiving TD footballs from Carolina players.
Seattle had their best drive yet when they drove close to the red zone. They gave up a shot at a field goal then failed to convert on fourth down. That made three turnovers in the first half alone.
The Hawks did force a Carolina punt next and had another chance to put some points on the board. A poorly managed drive wasted some ticks on the clock and Seattle had to settle for a FG try, which was of course missed as momentum had no interest switching to the losing side of this contest.
31-0 at the half and one would assume it was over, but we have seen miracles from Seattle before. Not to mention we saw Aaron Rodgers hit a 4th and 20 last night then a hail mary on the same drive to tie that playoff game.
31-0 is a bit different unless the Hawks had Frank Reich warming up in the locker room.
There are teams that have championship DNA. Seattle is one such team as they came out in the second half with the intention of winning. I truly believe Russell Wilson sees nothing except the present moment he is in. How else can you explain the guy believing he could bring his club back from 31 down?
Wilson took Seattle quickly down the field after a nice kickoff return by Tyler Lockett to start the third. Jermaine Kearse was the recipient of a touchdown pass to make it 7-31.
Wilson would go on to throw a deep TD pass to rookie sensation Tyler Lockett after the Hawks defense forced a Carolina punt. 31-14 Carolina still way up.
The Panthers were not being conservative in the second half, although their slowed tempo affected the offense that was held scoreless the entire second half by the alpha male Seattle defense.
The teams traded punts next which hurt Seattle more, who needed to score with each possession.
Cam Newton lost his cool for a second when the sideline mic picked his MFer comment. QB1 for Carolina was pissed that he had to burn a timeout. The Panthers once again punted the ball back to the vampire like Seahawks.
Russell Wilson kept moving his offense down the field with scrambles and found Tyler Lockett on a 27 yard pass that showed off the rookie receiver’s brilliance as he tip toed on the sideline. Wilson capped the possession with a touchdown throw to Jermaine Kearse to close the gap to ten points with about six minutes left in the game. 31-21 Panthers.
Keep in mind the field goal that Seattle could have went for on their second to last drive of the second quarter. Try and make that and they would only be down a TD at this point as Aikman pointed out.
Again the Seattle defense stopped Carolina and forced a punt. The media will focus on Russell Wilson‘s great second half, and rightly so, but the Hawks defensive unit did not allow Carolina to sniff the end zone in the second half.
The Seahawks started their next drive with under three to play in the game. It was all Doug all the time. Baldwin made a case for a raise as he caught three passes for first downs on the crucial drive. Seattle had to take three points with a FG to make it a one score game with just over a minute left. 31-24 Carolina still ahead but clinging.
The game came down to an onside kick. Seattle had already converted a on a fake punt. So to get lucky on an onside kick too would have meant destiny was indeed on their side. Fortunately for fans in the beautiful city of Charlotte, destiny was on the side of their Panthers as Thomas Davis hauled in the onside kick to seal the game.
Seattle’s Super Bowl run came to an end, but their championship mettle was on full display as they nearly mounted the comeback of the decade.
Carolina will host Arizona next week as the two best teams in the NFC survived their early round playoff challengers.