The Seattle Seahawks dominated the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football for another helpful conference win, 40-7. But Seattle suffered perhaps a greater loss when its seventh-year All-Pro safety Earl Thomas departed the game in the second quarter with a broken left tibia.
Thomas will be the biggest story, and Seattle will need to maximize its offensive performance for the duration of Thomas's recovery—even if it means the remainder of the season. But the Seahawks made significant progress in that direction compared to its previous game, by following up a five-point embarrassment with a rout that saw Thomas Rawls contribute more than 100 yards before halftime and the offense produce 30 points by the first series of the second half. Russell Wilson later added a fourth-quarter touchdown toss to Jimmy Graham, and gave way to Trevone Boykin with nine minutes left in the contest. Seattle outgained its previous season high by more than 100 yards, breaking 500 offesnsive yards for the first time since November 22, 2015, and posted the most total yards since 2014.
In the first quarter Rawls scored his fifth career touchdown, his first of 2016, on an eight-yard run that put Seattle up 10-0. Carolina answered with a 55-yard touchdown pass deep down the middle of the field one play after Thomas left the game, and then Rawls added a 45-yard touchdown to reassert the Seahawks' control of the game. The first offensive snap after halftime gave Seattle a 30-7 lead on a 75-yard catch and run by Tyler Lockett.
On his first snap after spending eight games on injured reserve, Mike Morgan intercepted a Derek Anderson bootleg and returned it to the eight-yard line. Three plays later Hauschka gave the Seahawks an early 3-0 lead. Seattle improves to 8-3-1 on the year while the Panthers drop to 4-8.