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3 things we learned about the Seahawks

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SEATTLE — The first two times Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught a pass deep in Seattle territory Sunday afternoon, he came up a yard short of the end zone. It seemed like an appropriate metaphor for the Panthers’ recent trips to Seattle.

With the game on the line in the final minute of Sunday’s game, Olson got another chance and strolled into the end zone untouched for the game-winning score.

Olsen’s 26-yard touchdown reception with 32 seconds left gave Carolina a 27-23 win over the struggling Seahawks as the Panthers improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2004.

“It’s a great win,” Olsen said after hauling in a Cam Newton pass between trailing Seattle defenders Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman to complete the Panthers’ comeback from a 13-point, second-half deficit. “It does only count for one win; that’s the way this league works. But it felt good. We’ve had some battles against these guys.”

The Panthers ended a three-year draught against the Seahawks, who had beaten Carolina four times in that span.

“This was one of the bigger victories we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who is in his fourth year as Carolina’s head coach.

Olsen caught seven passes for 131 yards and the touchdown, which came on the same exact play that resulted in a 32-yard reception to the 1-yard line on the Panthers’ previous drive.

Newton completed 20 of 36 passes for 269 yards and the touchdown and also ran for a score. Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart ran 20 times for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns. All four of Carolina’s touchdown drives covered 80 yards.

Seattle gave up 383 yards of offense and got victimized by a late touchdown in the final minute of regulation for the second week in a row.

“It’s very frustrating,” Thomas said. “We knew we had them. We don’t suck. We know who were are. … I’m glad we’ve got a game Thursday (at San Francisco). We get to get back on the football field.”

What we learned about the Seahawks:

1. This isn’t the clutch fourth-quarter team that NFL fans are used to seeing. For the second week in a row, a veteran quarterback with a lot to prove sliced up the Seahawks’ defense on its final drive of regulation. Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and Carolina’s Cam Newton proved in back-to-back weeks that they can perform in the clutch while also proving that the Seahawks aren’t the finishers they once were.

2. Communication isn’t just a problem for visiting teams at CenturyLink Field. S Earl Thomas admitted after the game that the game-winning touchdown came because he was in one defense while CB Richard Sherman was in another. Sherman was playing a defense the Seahawks call “L.A.,” which left him in a zone-type coverage along the sideline, while Thomas was in Cover-3. The combination left Panthers TE Greg Olsen wide open up the seam for a 26-yard touchdown pass that wasn’t even challenged. It came on a day when the Seattle secondary had two interceptions, twice as many as the Seahawks had previously this season.

3. The Seahawks are fighting an uphill battle — again. Much like last season, when Seattle fell three games out of the NFC West race over the first two months, the Seahawks are scrambling again. The good news is that Arizona’s loss kept Seattle within two games of the division lead. The better news is that the Seahawks are 21-4 in November and December over the past three seasons. Is this team good enough to peak at the right time again? We’ll see.

Etc.

–MLB Bobby Wagner was inactive due to a strained pectoral muscle. It was the first game Wagner missed this season.

–RB Marshawn Lynch returned after missing two games due to a hamstring injury, and he gained 54 yards on 17 carries Sunday. He scored Seattle’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.

–S Kam Chancellor had his first interception of the season in the third quarter Sunday. He hauled in a wobbly pass from Carolina QB Cam Newton, whose arm was hit by Seattle DE Cliff Avril on the play.

–LB Kevin Pierre-Louis made his first start of the season, stepping in for injured MLB Bobby Wagner, and part of his assignment was to stay with Carolina TE Greg Olsen. The Panthers’ leading receiver had seven receptions in the Seahawks’ loss.

–TE Jimmy Graham caught eight passes for 140 yards in the Seahawks’ loss Sunday. Graham was a bigger part of the offense than he has been all season, which is a good sign for Seattle moving forward.


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