A year ago, the Seattle Seahawks matched up with the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3 at Lumen Field. Entering the matchup, Seattle was 1-1 and Atlanta was 0-2. Not too many were sure what to make of the Seahawks, primarily because people didn't believe Geno Smith was a starting caliber QB in this league. On top of the fact that the core nucleus of this team was now a bunch of young players being thrusted into starting positions.
Now, Seattle ended up losing that game. Giving truth to what those were spewing prior to the contest. Fast forward to this year's Week 3 matchup, the 1-1 Seahawks versus the 0-2 Panthers. A Panthers team who many believe are in the process of a rebuild, not having high expectations for the remainder of the season. However, for the Seahawks, they remain to be an enigma for the remainder of the league. They added veterans in the off-season, but the core of this team got younger and Geno Smith is still under center.
Ironically, for this year's Week 3 matchup, the Seattle Seahawks were honoring the 2013 Super Bowl champion team. A team, that didn't have many expectations because of questions surrounding their quarterback as well as the youth spread throughout the roster. For a while, it appeared that this game was heading towards a similar outcome to that of last year's Week 3 matchup. But, one key mishap propelled this Seattle offense into a strong finish, securing their second win of the season.
This thread is meant to point out one play that changed the trajectory of this game. Before getting into it, it's very important to note the impact the fans had on this game. Causing 8 false start penalties makes such a difference in this game, especially when those penalties are coming on 3rd down, pushing the offense back 5 yards. The crowd was fantastic and really contributed to this win for the Seahawks.
Turning point in Seahawks 3 victory: Taking advantage of short field situation
Now, down to business. The first half of this game was quite frustrating. Seattle's offense was able to move the ball down the field, but kept falling short in the red zone, having to settle for field goals. Five field goals to be exact. Of course, you take any points you can get in the NFL. But, the failure to put the ball in the end zone can come back to haunt you in a game. Esepcially, in a game like this where the Seahawks were dialing up the pressure on defense.
In fact, the Panthers took the lead on the first touchdown of the game with a breakdown in the secondary. Between missing key players and having key starters playing injured, all the red zone failures were adding pressure on this Seattle defense. However, a missed Carolina field goal in the second half sparked this Seahawks offense. After Eddie Pinero missed 55-yarder, Kenneth Walker punched the ball into the end zone and the Seahawks never looked back.
Credit to Carolina's defense for majority of this game. Early on, the pressure they were able to get on a 4-man pass rush greatly contributed to the number of field goals the Seahawks settled for. With an already beat-up offensive line, the Panthers were able to take advantage of that.
Shane Waldron's commitment to the run game helped alleviate the pressure off Geno Smith, who bounced back nicely from a first half interception. Kenneth Walker III was tremendous in this game. After Carolina's missed field goal attempt, the Seahawks scored touchdowns on 3 of their next 4 offensive possessions. Two of those touchdowns belonged to the lead horse, Kenneth Walker.
By finally punching the ball into the endzone, the Seahawks applied pressure on Andy Dalton and a short-staffed Panthers offense. They couldn't get the run game going, which hurt Seattle in their matchup last year, forcing Dalton to throw a career high, 58 passing attempts. The Seahawks enforced their will in the second half and finished the game strong by growing an adequate enough lead against an inferior opponent.