Russell Wilson’s Seahawks upset Panthers late, pull ahead of Carolina in wild-card chase
With a potential playoff berth at stake, the visiting Seattle Seahawks withstood a near-perfect first half by Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey’s yards-from-scrimmage demolition to upset Carolina, 30-27, on a game-winning 31-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal at the buzzer.
Russell Wilson completed 22-of-30 for 339 yards and two touchdowns, including a massive 54-yard score to David Moore on fourth-and-3 in the fourth quarter to give Seattle a 20-17 lead it would quickly relinquish. But after Panthers PK Graham Gano missed a 52-yarder that would’ve put Carolina ahead in the final two minutes, Wilson found Tyler Lockett on third-and-5 for a 43-yard catch to position “Seabass” for the win.
With the victory, the Seahawks improved to 6-5 and moved ahead of Carolina in the race for the NFC’s final playoff spot, which 6-5 Washington currently clings to by virtue of a tiebreaker. However, It was Seattle’s fourth win in its past six games, and it appears to be heading in the opposite direction as Colt McCoy-led Washington and the Panthers, who have now dropped three straight, each seemingly more demoralizing than the last.
Newton was 14-of-14 passing in the first half, one week after he air-mailed Jarius Wright on a would-be game-winning two-point conversion in Detroit. He finished Sunday 25-of-30 for 258 yards and two touchdowns. But Newton’s lone interception came in the end zone on Carolina’s opening possession of the second half, when S Bradley McDougald tipped a pass intended for Panthers backup TE Chris Manhertz to himself for Seattle’s first takeaway since Week 8.
Along with Gano’s miss, the Newton pick was the only second-half possession on which the Panthers failed to score, while Carolina scored on six of its final seven drives, including all four after intermission.
In playoffs-or-bust mode, Seattle earned a huge victory on the opposite coast prior to returning to the 12s for a two-game homestand vs. San Francisco and Minnesota. The Panthers are reeling in a big way, with trips to Tampa Bay and a resurgent Cleveland prior to seeing the NFC-leading New Orleans Saints twice over the final three games.
Seattle has had one of the NFL’s more dynamic rushing attacks this season but managed only 2.7 yards per carry against a stout Carolina front. And McCaffrey racked up an NFL-high 237 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns vs. the Seahawks. But in the end it was Wilson’s play in crunch time that gave Seattle its second straight victory in this fun rivalry since losing in the 2015 divisional round.