The Seattle Seahawks had three blown fourth-quarter leads heading into Sunday’s match against the Panthers.
Carolina made it four.
Tight end Greg Olsen caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cam Newton with 36 seconds to play, giving the Panthers a 27-23 victory over the two-time defending NFC Champions.
The Panthers clawed back from a fourth-quarter deficit that at one time was 13 points to move to 5-0 on the season for only the second time. The first time? When the Panthers advanced to the Super Bowl in 2003.
“I always thought if we could do it one at a time ... I knew we’d have a chance to win,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
The offense was buoyed by the hard running of Jonathan Stewart and hands of Olsen as Cam Newton suffered through a two-interception day.
Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham lit up the Panthers’ secondary for 140 yards for his biggest game of the season after weeks of light use as Seattle (2-4) tried to figure out how to work him into its offense.
Three who mattered
Greg Olsen: He was Newton’s only reliable target for most of the game. He finished with 131 receiving yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Jonathan Stewart: Faced with an eight-man box for most of the game, the running back rushed hard 20 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Luke Kuechly: In his first game back from a concussion, Kuechly was in on seemingly every Marshawn Lynch tackle. He finished the game with 14 tackles.
▪ Linebacker Shaq Thompson left the game with under a minute left when he appeared to injure his left knee making a tackle on the kickoff return. “It didn’t sound as bad as it looked but we will see,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said afterward.
▪ Devin Funchess had and up-and-down day. He had a drop in the first half and then couldn’t hang on to what would have been a first down on a Panthers’ scoring drive inside the 20 in the third quarter. He had a second drop on a fourth-quarter drive that almost led to an interception. But he had key catches on Carolina’s two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
▪ The Panthers had three false start penalties in the second quarter. Two went against Greg Olsen and a third against Jerricho Cotchery.
▪ Newton’s second-quarter touchdown was the 36th rushing touchdown of his career, tying him with Michael Vick for fourth-most in the NFL by a quarterback since the merger.
▪ Cornerback Teddy Williams left the game in the second quarter with what was officially called a head injury after making a special teams tackle. Williams did not return to the game.
▪ Tight end Richie Brockel was inactive after missing part of the week at practice with a hamstring injury. He was joined on the list by Dean Marlowe, Brandon Wegher, A.J. Klein, Daryl Williams, Jared Allen and Kevin Norwood.
▪ Charles Johnson didn’t let being on the injured reserve stop him from coming to Seattle. Johnson funded his trip out to the Pacific Northwest and cheered on the team as a fan as he remains on the IR-designated to return list.
▪ Rapper and Seattle native Sir Mix-a-Lot raised the 12th Man flag before the start of the game. At halftime, rapper Macklemore played a fan in Guitar Hero at halftime on the field.
They said it
“He was tremendous.” – Rivera on Kuechly, who returned after missing thee games while in the concussion protocol.
“This was one of the biggest victories we’ve have since I’ve been here.” – Rivera, in his fifth season.
“He’s probably one of those guys who is excited about his production and not worried about his team losing.” – Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis on Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham.