Wilson paces Seahawks past Panthers in season opener


Sep 8, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to pass in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but the Seahawks will take it. Russell Wilson took some nasty hits but stayed strong for his team, leading them to a 12-7 win over the Carolina Panthers while passing for 320 yards and a touchdown.

Many predicted the Hawks to beat the Panthers but no one imagined how stressful the victory would be. The Seahawks were by no means dominant, but they were the last man standing in a physical contest and earned the right to start the season 1-0.

The Panthers started the game on a roll, going nine plays for 39 yards before being forced to punt. On the Seahawks’ first possession of the season, they had three plays for one total yard. Stalled drives kept the game scoreless for both teams in the first quarter.

The Seahawks got on the board first when Steven Hauschka nailed a 27-yard kick to give Seattle a 3-0 lead in the second quarter. On the Panthers next drive, they marched 80 yards on 11 plays and capped it with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Steve Smith to give the Panthers a 7-3 lead.

Seattle had a chance to narrow the margin — or even take the lead — before the half, but Russell Wilson fumbled the ball at Carolina’s 12 yard line and the Panthers recovered.

In the third quarter, the Seahawks made it a one-point game as Hauschka made his second field goal of the game, this one a 40-yard kick that made it a 7-6 game.

The Hawks took the lead for good on their first possession in the fourth quarter, as Wilson completed a 43-yard pass down the sideline to Jermaine Kearse for the Seahawks’ first touchdown of the year. Coach Pete Carroll elected to attempt a two-point conversion but it was unsuccessful and the Seahawks were forced to settle with a five-point, 12-7 lead.

The Panthers used their next possession to make things a little too interesting, driving for 72 yards on eight plays before safety Earl Thomas forced DeAngelo Williams to fumble the ball at Seattle’s 24 yard line. The Seahawks recovered and ran out the last 5:25 of the clock to ultimately give them the victory.

It was by no means easy and Seattle will have to tweak a few things before the San Francisco 49ers roll into town next weekend. The team had nine penalties that went against them for 109 total yards. The defense allowed 124 rush yards and 243 total yards, but they made some big plays when they mattered.

Earl Thomas led the defense with 10 tackles and the forced fumble. Richard Sherman was relatively quiet with two tackles.

Marshawn Lynch was held to just 43 yards on 17 attempts, but Doug Baldwin helped out with a big game of his own. He caught seven passes for 91 yards.