Seahawks top Panthers 16-12

The Seattle Seahawks need their tough defense to make things

easier on rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The plan worked

perfectly against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Wilson threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Golden Tate late in

the third quarter, while the defense frustrated Newton and the

Panthers throughout Sunday’s 16-12 road win.

Wilson threw for a season-high 221 yards and shook off two

third-quarter interceptions, one of which was returned for a

touchdown. Of course, it helped that the defense kept the Panthers

(1-4) out of the end zone and harassed Newton into a career-low 141

yards passing.

”The defense hasn’t had any problems this year,” Seattle

receiver Sidney Rice said. ”They played well enough for us to win

all year, all five games. On the offensive end, we need to pick it

up just a little bit.”

Carolina had two chances to take the lead in the final minutes

Sunday only to come away empty each time.

After driving the Panthers to the 1 for a fourth-down play,

Newton rolled to his right and spotted Ben Hartsock open in the end

zone, but he threw a one-hopper on the short pass.

Then, after the Seahawks (3-2) took an intentional safety,

Carolina got the ball back at its own 31 with 54 seconds left and

no timeouts. That’s when Bruce Irvin, a rookie, stripped Newton

from behind for his second sack. Defensive tackle Alan Branch fell

on the loose ball to seal the win.

”It wasn’t easy; it might have looked like it was, but it

wasn’t easy because of all the stuff they do,” Seahawks coach Pete

Carroll said. ”And they tried all their options and stuff, and we

were able to stay in sync with it, so it’s a fantastic job

defensively.

”Nothing can express it more than standing up on the goal line

down there and finishing. That was awesome. It’s what defensive

players and coaches live for – those challenges and opportunities –

and the guys came through in a big way.”

Newton finished just 12 for 29 and was sacked four times. He

also ran for 42 yards, but Carolina finished with just 190 total

yards.

”When you know what guys are doing and you still can’t beat

them, they’re just good at what they do,” said Newton, last year’s

No. 1 overall draft pick.

”Let’s call a cat a cat and a dog a dog. They’re a great

defense. We knew what we they were going to do before the game even

started.”

The Panthers’ only touchdown came on Captain Munnerlyn’s 33-yard

interception return early in the third quarter.

”We know he’s a great dual-threat quarterback, but once we

bottle it up and frustrate him, we know he’s going to tank a little

bit,” Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said of Newton. ”We were able

to do that today.”

Carolina started the season with plenty of optimism with the

return of Newton to lead a high-scoring offense, but the Panthers

couldn’t rebound a week after losing 30-28 to the Falcons on Matt

Bryant’s field goal with 5 seconds left.

”This is by no stretch done,” second-year Panthers coach Ron

Rivera said. ”This is 1-4 and we’re not going to quit. We’re going

to show up and we’re going to be back on the job (Monday). We will

find answers and we’re going to win.”

The game marked a homecoming of sorts for Wilson, who first

gained acclaim as a quarterback at North Carolina State. He also

played minor league baseball in Asheville and Gastonia before

returning to college football and finishing up at Wisconsin.

The rookie hadn’t thrown for more than 160 yards in a game until

Sunday, but didn’t panic when he threw the two interceptions and

bought time with his mobility on several plays.

”I felt like we had so much control there,” Wilson said. ”I

made sure everyone was on the same page, and even changed the snap

count a lot. We did a lot of great things today. … Obviously,

some of the penalties pulled us back, as did the turnovers, but we

still did a lot of great things.”

Notes: The Panthers played without three starters; cornerback

Chris Gamble, linebacker Jon Beason and offensive lineman due to

injuries. … Newton targeted receiver Steve Smith a season-high 13

times. The previous high was 11 in the opener at Tampa Bay. …

Seattle tight end Zach Miller had three catches for a season-high

59 yards, including a season-long 30-yard catch. … Rice had five

catches for 67 yards. … Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined to

rush for 22 yards for Carolina. … Steven Hauschka kicked three

field goals for Seattle.