The Panthers were 4-0 and the Seahawks were 2-3, so perhaps what we saw Sunday in Seattle shouldn’t have been surprising.
But it was.
“It was really surprising,” USA Today NFL writer Lindsay Jones said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Cam Newton was 0-4 against the Seattle Seahawks in his career coming into this game. I know there were a lot of questions about just how good this undefeated Panthers team was. I think part of that is just because the NFC South gets knocked a lot. They hadn’t really played anybody of note yet. This was really kind of a (statement win). Even though Seattle was 2-3 going into the game, there was a feeling that Seattle was the better team and the Panthers were kind of an undefeated fraud.”
They’re not. The Panthers overcame a 13-point deficit in the third quarter and a nine-point deficit in the fourth to stun the Seahawks, 27-23. Cam Newton threw for 269 yards, ran for 30 more and had two touchdowns (one pass, one rush), including a 26-yard strike to Greg Olsen in the final minute to win the game.
“The Panthers are doing some really good things,” Jones said. “Cam Newton is growing up a lot as a quarterback, and the Seahawks have some really significant flaws that are not flukes. The way that they’ve been losing these games – if you lose one game like this, you can say there was a miscommunication. But they’re doing this week after week where they lose in the fourth quarter. But let’s not take anything away from what the Panthers did – or the way Can Newton was able to lead four 80-yard touchdown drives. That’s hard to do anywhere; that’s especially hard to do in Seattle. And two of those 80-yard touchdown drives happened in the fourth quarter. And the touchdown that he threw to Greg Olsen with 30-something seconds left in the game was as pretty a touchdown pass as you’re ever going to see.”
It was also as bad of a blown coverage as you’ll ever see. What has happened to the Seahawks? They have plenty of talented, experienced guys who are letting fourth-quarter leads evaporate.
“Yeah, theres some big issues that are going on – and it’s not just the defense,” Jones said. “When you see the Bengals overcome a 17-point deficit and then for the Panthers to do it, obviously the defense is going to get a lot of the blame, especially with these long touchdown drives. But there’s also the fact that the Seattle offense has had a chance to put away these games each week and they just can’t pick up a first down. Sometimes that’s really all it (would have) taken. Just pick up a first down and then you can use some more of the clock, and that, just on a consistent basis, isn’t happening.
So this is all-around kind of a team failure,” Jones said. “They’re either not getting those first downs when they really just need to run the four-minute offense and run the clock, or they’re having to settle for too many field goals early in the fourth quarter. And that’s keeping them from pulling away. It’s letting teams hang around. Look, the Bengals are a really good team, and the Panthers – they might not be a really good team, but they’re pretty good. And they’re good enough if you let them hang around and if you start making mistakes that they’re going to come up and get you.”
Seattle downplayed the loss after the game, saying its problems are minor and fixable. Jones, however, wasn’t buying it.
“You’re 2-4,” she said. “You can kind of manipulate stats all the way you want, but at some point you are what your record says you are – and right now, they’re 2-4 and their losses have been some pretty bad losses because of the way they’re losing.”