Tight end Ben Hartsock didn't expect to find himself so wide open in the Seattle end zone early Sunday evening with a chance to catch what could have been the game-winning pass in the Panthers' 16-12 loss to the Seahawks.
Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Seattle 1 with less than four minutes to play, Hartsock was primarily a blocker until quarterback Cam Newton saw tight end Greg Olsen covered and needed to improvise.
It's a play, Hartsock said, the Panthers have had in their playbook for several weeks, but it isn't designed to make him the target.
"We have a hard run action, a hard run sell and I'm a very last option on that route. I'm blocking and (then) leak out to the flat. It's one of those things, with the speed of it all, we just came up short," Hartsock said.
"It's one of those things where a lot of times in those circumstances you get lost in the mess of it all. It was all there. We just weren't able to link up."
TD'S TAKE: Linebacker Thomas Davis moved back into the starting lineup with Jon Beason out, playing on one side of rookie Luke Kuechly in the middle.
Davis said the defense did many good things against the Seahawks but needed to do more. Davis said keeping Seattle out of the end zone after the Seahawks recovered a fumble at the Panthers 27 in the third quarter was critical.
"We practice on those situations," Davis said. "Whenever we take the field as a defense, we feel like we're capable of holding, if it's a short field, holding them to a field goal to not even allowing them to score at all. Unfortunately, we weren't able to hold them on that particular job and they were able to go ahead and score."
Davis said he liked the decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the Seattle 1 late in the fourth quarter.
"Knowing our offense, I definitely would love to see us in that position," Davis said. "If you have me guess what's going to happen on that play, I'm going for it 100 times out of 100."
OVERCOMING MISTAKES: Seattle was hampered all day with penalties, racking up seven for 65 yards.
The Seahawks first penalty came on a deep pass by Wilson that got them into Carolina territory in the first quarter but was negated by tackle Breno Giacominis hold. In the second quarter, a 20-yard rush by Marshawn Lynch was brought back after tackle Russell Okung was flagged for holding.
But along with the flags, Seattle hurt itself with three turnovers, including a bobbled Lynch catch for an interception and a fumbled Leon Washington kickoff return.
I keep thinking, Is this the day? Are we going to have all this going for us and then just give it to them? Carroll said. Our running backs never fumble and for them to have two, I dont even know how that happened. Weve been so good for so long. The really cool thing is that we didnt waver at all.
TWITTER TIFF: DeAngelo Williams' six carries for six yards and a fumble left plenty of fantasy football owners upset with the running back's performance.
Naturally, Williams was disgruntled about it, too. But when he checked Twitter after the game, WIlliams found out just how vitriolic fantasy owners could be.
Several profanity-laced tweets were sent Williams' way, and he responded firmly while abstaining from profanity.
"Dear upset fantasy owners with the bad language," Williams tweeted from his Twitter account, @DeAngeloRB, "you are a fantasy owner for a reason because you can't play or apparently fantasy coach!"
INACTIVES: The Panthers were quarterback Jimmy Clausen, receiver/kick returner Joe Adams, cornerback Chris Gamble, safety D.J. Campbell, linebacker Jon Beason, guard Geoff Hangartner and defensive end Thomas Keiser.
The Seahawks list included receiver Charly Martin, safety Winston Guy, cornerback Danny Gorrer, cornerback Jeremy Lane, guard John Moffitt, defensive tackle Jaye Howard and defensive end Greg Scruggs.
• -- Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and his wife, Kara, will have twins by cesarian section on Tuesday and one of the children, T.J., will immediately be taken into surgery for a life-threatening heart condition. It's the first of three scheduled open-heart surgeries in his first week.
• With pink in vogue this weekend, the nicest touch may have been kicker Justin Medlock's pink-toed kicking shoes.
• More evidence of southern hospitality in Charlotte: After some beautiful early fall weather all week, it looked and felt like Seattle Sunday with gray skies and chilly temperatures. Nice football weather, though.
• Captain Munnerlyn may not be the most physically talented cornerback in the league but he has one thing cornerbacks must have -- self-confidence. His interception return for a touchdown was the second of his Panthers career, the first coming two years ago against Cincinnati.
• With starter Geoff Hangartner out with an injury, back-up Jeff Byers wound up with the bulk of the playing time despite the fact Garry Williams started.
• The Panthers will have a short work week, probably breaking after Wednesday for their bye weekend. Dragging a three-game losing streak into their break isn't the way they envisioned this season going.
By the numbers
3 Number of catches WR Brandon LaFell recorded. The No. 2 wide receiver entered the game having caught only one ball in the past two games.
12 Panthers' average starting position in the first half.
22 Combined rushing yards for tailbacks DeAngelo William and Jonathan Stewart.
42 Yards Cam Newton carried for against Seattle, leading the team for the third time this season. The Panthers are 1-2 when Newton leads the team in rushing yards.
80 Consecutive games in which Steve Smith has caught a pass, dating back to the season finale against New Orleans in 2006.
• "It's definitely shocking knowing the talent we have on this team and the guys we have in this locker room, knowing we're much better than a 1-4 record. We've just got to get back to the basics, get back to playing tough, hard-nosed football, going out and winning games. That's what it boils down to." -- Linebacker Thomas Davis.
• "It comes at a bad time. I really don't want to stop playing. I've got a bad taste in my mouth. -- Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn on the upcoming bye week.
• "We didn't do a lot of fancy stuff in this game plan. We just really believed in the system and the way we played." -- Seattle coach Pete Carroll on his team's defensive plan.
"What's frustrating is having three and outs. We did nothing to control it." -- Tight end Greg Olsen.
Staff writer Jonathan Jones contributed to this article.