The Seattle Seahawks (7-6) got run over once again, and this time it may very well be a point of no return.
The Carolina Panthers (5-8) rushed for well over 200 yards, held Geno Smith to his worst game of the season, and took advantage of the lack of healthy running backs on their way to a 30-24 win. Thanks to the win by the San Francisco 49ers over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Panthers are only a game out of first place in the NFC South (with a tiebreaker advantage!). Meanwhile, the Seahawks are two back of the 49ers and are also out of the wild card.
Seattle was swept by the NFC South, by far the worst division in the NFL. That’s bad. This team is not good and they’re banged up, looking increasingly like the team we feared they’d be in August. Maybe they’re ahead of schedule still, but they’re still well behind what it takes to be a real contender.
The Panthers started on offense and converted their first three third downs of the game, including a 3rd and 10 handoff to backup running back Chuba Hubbard. Rookie sensation Tariq Woolen broke up a Sam Darnold deep ball to DJ Moore that would’ve been a touchdown. Another 3rd down run by Carolina was stopped by Cody Barton, leading to a made 47-yard field goal attempt by Eddy Pineiro. 3-0 Panthers.
Geno Smith’s first pass was a horrible interception to Jaycee Horn. I have no idea what Geno was looking at but Horn only didn’t score a touchdown on the return because he stumbled. Darnold threw an easy touchdown to Shi Smith to extend Carolina’s lead. 10-0 Panthers.
Seattle’s offense continued to sputter, only mustering up a first down via penalty. Carolina got the ball back and just gashed the Seahawks defense with underneath passes and a power-running attack behind D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard. It was Hubbard who punched it in from a yard out on 3rd and goal. 17-0 Panthers.
A huge deep ball from Geno to Marquise Goodwin on 3rd down gained 38 yards, followed by a nice throw to an open Tyler Lockett that set up the Seahawks with goal to go at Carolina’s 8. On 3rd and goal, Geno found Lockett in the back of the end zone on a ridiculous toe tap touchdown. Six games in a row with a TD! 17-7 Panthers.
The defense stepped up with a rare three-and-out, with Darrell Taylor applying pressure on 2nd down before sacking Darnold on 3rd down. Geno gave it right back on a 3rd down interception to C.J. Henderson, but the caveat was he thought there was a free play when it looked for all the world that Carolina jumped offsides.
A very iffy horse collar penalty on Uchenna Nwosu on Sam Darnold put the Panthers in Seattle’s red zone. Bruce Irvin sacked Darnold after Carolina false started, resulting in 3rd and long. Carolina settled for another field goal and made it. 20-7 Panthers.
Godwin Igwebuike made the most of his Seahawks debut by returning the ensuing kickoff just past midfield to the Carolina 46. Talk about a spark from the practice squad running back! Geno drove Seattle into the red zone off of another clutch 3rd down pass to Goodwin. The next 3rd down throw was a touchdown to DK Metcalf in the slot. 20-14 Panthers.
Another huge kick return by Godwin Igwebuike gave Seattle good field position at their own 40 to begin the 2nd half. Geno Smith hit Marquise Goodwin (who made a great leaping grab) to get into Panthers territory, then scrambled for a first down into field goal range. Travis Homer finally got a good run into the red zone, but it stalled from there. Jason Myers connected from 27. 20-17 Panthers.
Carolina went three-and-out after Coby Bryant broke up a 3rd down Darnold throw to former Seahawk Stephen Sullivan. Darnold had space to run for a first down but threw it further downfield and the rookie broke up the pass. Unfortunately the Seahawks responded with a tepid three-and-out and punted it back to Carolina. Terrace Marshall made one of the catches of the year. With his legs. Seattle lost a timeout after failing on this challenge.
Looks like a clean catch by Terrace Marshall to me! pic.twitter.com/BY3DT3W023— Billy M (@BillyM_91) December 11, 2022
Two plays later, Sam Darnold raced out for 26 yards on a scramble drill all the way to the Seahawks 24. On 4th and 1 at the 5, Foreman converted in short yardage to set up goal to go. Darnold threw incomplete passes on consecutive plays, setting up a 3rd and goal, which was also incomplete. Take the points, right? Nah! Go for it on 4th down and that’s incomplete on a desperation fling! Uchenna Nwosu had the pressure and Darnold’s flip was knocked away by Quandre Diggs.
Seattle got out of the shadow of their own goal line but the one-dimensional nature of their offense meant keying in on Geno Smith and attacking the offensive line. Smith was sacked on a 3rd and 10 blitz that might have induced a false start, but the refs didn’t throw a flag.
The Panthers just mowed the Seahawks run defense down and rushed for 68 yards on their way to an easy touchdown for rookie Raheem Blackshear. 27-17 Panthers with 6:57 left.
A scoreless possession by Seattle gave way to a cowardly punt by Pete Carroll, who watched his defense get gashed for four more minutes before giving up a field goal. 30-17 Panthers.
Geno Smith was still battling and threw a late touchdown to Marquise Goodwin on a free play. Carolina pretty much gave up a little prematurely on defense, but they recovered the onside kick. 30-24 Panthers FINAL.
1st Quarter: Eddy Pineiro 47-yard field goal - SEA 0, CAR 3
1st Quarter: Shi Smith 13-yard touchdown pass from Sam Darnold - SEA 0, CAR 10
2nd Quarter: Chuba Hubbard 1-yard touchdown run - SEA 0, CAR 17
2nd Quarter: Tyler Lockett 4-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith - SEA 7, CAR 17
2nd Quarter: Eddy Pineiro 32-yard field goal - SEA 7, CAR 20
2nd Quarter: DK Metcalf 12-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith - SEA 14, CAR 20
3rd Quarter: Jason Myers 27-yard field goal - SEA 17, CAR 20
4th Quarter: Raheem Blackshear 8-yard touchdown run - SEA 17, CAR 27
4th Quarter: Eddy Pineiro 39-yard field goal - SEA 17, CAR 30
4th Quarter: Marquise Goodwin 24-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith - SEA 24, CAR 30
Seahawks Injury Report
DT Al Woods did not play in the 2nd half with a heel injury.
Next Week’s Opponent
The Seahawks have a short week before hosting the San Francisco 49ers (9-4) on Thursday Night Football at 5:15 PM PT on Amazon Prime Video.