CHARLOTTE – Quantifying Luke Kuechly's impact against the Seattle Seahawks involves more than his game-high 14 tackles. There's the intangible factor he possesses that elevated Carolina's entire defense.
"Great players make the players around them better," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "Luke is a great player."
In his first game back after suffering a concussion in the season opener, Kuechly played every single defensive snap. And the Panthers counted on him to contain powerful running back Marshawn Lynch, who was limited to 54 yards on 17 carries.
"It was a great matchup watching Luke against Marshawn in certain situations," McDermott said. "We knew that was going to be the case. One of our best on one of their best. That's how we schemed it. I thought Luke won those matchups."
NOT MUCH ACTION FOR NORMAN: The Seahawks had no interest in testing cornerback Josh Norman. McDermott recalled Carolina's top corner being thrown against once.
"One time on a screen," McDermott said.
Norman fired off the snap to stop wide receiver Doug Baldwin for a 2-yard loss.
"They wanted to see if he could tackle," McDermott said. "He did what he had to do."
McDermott liked that Norman was targeted just once, and he wouldn't be surprised to see it continue.
"Shoot, if he can take away half the field, then that's on (our opponents)," McDermott said.
SLOWING WILSON: Keeping quarterback Russell Wilson contained in the pocket can be a challenge.
"That's hard, as you saw," McDermott said.
But after a first half in which Wilson ran five times for 48 yards, the Panthers improved in the second half. After halftime, Wilson ran three times for five yards.
"We sent five a couple times to keep him in the pocket," McDermott explained.
Wilson still managed to make some plays through the air by scrambling away from pressure. But overall, Carolina made it tough on Seattle's passing game and Wilson was sacked three times in the fourth quarter (a holding call on Lynch prevented what would have been a fourth sack).
"I thought we affected the quarterback," McDermott said.
View the top photos by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez from Carolina's game against Seattle.