Grading the Seahawks at the Panthers:
By Micah Nelson
Sep 8, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) reacts in the first half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Well it wasn’t the blow out win that Seahawks fans were hoping to see but the Seahawks had a big win in week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. Besides the obvious who played well and who didn’t, we have to recognize what the Seahawks were able to do on the road against a stout Panthers team. Seattle traveled 2,832 Miles and then played a game at 1 pm Eastern Time which is 10 am Pacific Time. Seattle has never been a team that traveled across country very well and when you add the fact that this was the first game of the 2013 season and you have the setting for a possible upset to one of projected top teams in the NFL. The Seahawks played a strong game and weathered the storm before taking the lead late, killing a promising Panther drive and then running out the clock.
Russell Wilson started the game slow; he seemed to have a few butterflies early although he settled down in the 2nd quarter and started to find his groove with his efficient throws. Wilson threw for 1 Touchdown on 25 of 33 passing for 320 yards. Wilson had a huge 3rd down conversion throw to Doug Baldwin with multiple Panthers in his face he threw a precision pass on the sideline. Although, Wilson was only sacked twice in the game he seemed to constantly be under duress, he has to have an internal clock in his head to either move out of the pocket or throw the ball away.
The Panthers got a lot of push off the line and Marshawn Lynch was never able to truly unleash Beastmode. Lynch finished with 43 yards rushing on 17 carries and Robert Turbin had 17 yards on 3 carries. Although, after Seattle got the ball back late in the 4th Quarter the Seattle running game was able to plow through the Carolina defense for a few much needed 1st downs to finish the game off.
The Seahawks Receivers had a strong game although there were not any huge numbers, just like last year the Receivers were able to hang on to the balls wherever Wilson placed them. Jermaine Kearse had the big 43 yard Touchdown catch which was placed perfectly for him to turn jump and haul in while in tight coverage. Stephen Williams just missed a diving catch on a big throw by Wilson, even though he missed the catch he again showed his ability to get behind the defense. Doug Baldwin was the top Receiver; he was targeted 8 times pulling in 7 catches for 91 yards. Baldwin seemed to be Wilson’s security blanket when he got into trouble.
The Offensive line seemed to be the weak link on the Sunday as Wilson seemed to be under constant pressure. Wilson had pass rushers in his face the whole game and the Running backs did not have any clear running lanes until late in the game. The Seahawks must find a consistent Offensive line and let them work together.
The Defensive line did not have a horrible game for missing Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons to injury and Bruce Irvin to suspension. The Panthers were able to create holes and put together a solid running game although the Seahawks line did keep Cam Newton and his running ability at bay only allowing him to rush for 38 yards on 5 attempts and Newton was sacked once by O’Brien Schofield.
The Line backing Crew of the Seahawks put in a solid day, Bobby Wagner had a solid day with 7 tackles in his first game of his second year. KJ Wright had 4 tackles as they cleaned up the Panthers Running Backs that made it through the Defensive line. Seattle used their Linebackers regularly to fill the holes and create the pressure on Newton in the 2nd half that slowed down the Panthers attack.
The Legion of Boom i.e. The Seahawks Secondary was missing Brandon Browner this week yet they put together a solid day with Walter Thurmond filling in. Earl Thomas lead the Seahawks with 10 tackles and Kam Chancellor had another 6 tackles. Seattle’s Safeties had their work cut out for them once Carolina got its running game going. The Seahawks Secondary was impressive shutting down the Panthers passing attack and holding Newton to 16 of 23 for 125 yards and 1 Touchdown. The Seahawks only allowed the Panthers to an average of 5.4 yards per reception. Richard Sherman had a few huge plays in this game, barely missing an interception that had 6 points written all over it but he dropped it after making a huge break on the out route. Sherman later caused the game saving fumble as the Panthers were driving deep into the Seahawks territory he forced the ball out of Deangelo Williams grip as he closed in on a go ahead score late in the 4th Quarter.
Special Teams: A
The Seahawks special teams had a solid game; Steven Hauschka was 2 for 2 on field goal attempts. The Panthers were not able to return a single Kick-off as they all sailed either into or out of the Endzone. Jon Ryan had a 49.5 Punting average while pinning the Panthers inside the 20 yard line once. Ryan then kicked a booming punt from the back of the end zone which seemed to carry 80 yards but was scored as a 69 yard punt to flip the field in the Seahawks favor. Seattle was unable to return any Kick-offs but Golden Tate was able to return 4 punts averaging a solid 12 yards per return with his shifty hips.
The Seahawks definitely have some things to work on after week 1. Although, all things considered the Seahawks put together a solid win and they have started the 2013 Season on the right foot getting the “W”. The Seahawks have struggled in the past going east but this team traveled the country and was able to do enough to win and head back to Seattle in anticipation of their much anticipated meeting with the hated San Francisco 49ers next Sunday.