SEATTLE – Against any team, and especially against the Seahawks, the first priority for a defense is to take away the run.
Carolina bottled up bruising running back Marshawn Lynch. He rushed 14 times for just 59 yards. But quarterback Russell Wilson didn't need the complement of the run game to have success through the air.
Wilson completed 15-of-22 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 149.2.
"Give their quarterback credit. He's a special player. He made plays especially when it counted in third-down situations," head coach Ron Rivera said. "When the quarterback is on, their offense is tough to stop."
Each touchdown pass came on third down, and all told, Wilson finished 8-for-8 on third down. As a team, the Seahawks converted 7-of-13 third downs.
"We didn't do a good enough job on third down," defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. "The quarterback made some great throws. We played man, we played zone. He made plays."
TURNOVERS TELLING: The Panthers turned the ball over three times. The Seahawks didn't turn it over once.
Rarely, if ever, will that math add up to win for Carolina.
"Unfortunately, they were (the difference)," Rivera said.
Added left tackle Byron Bell: "It doesn't matter if its Little League or the pros -- the turnover battle is important. We must win that. We've done that this season to win a lot of games."
Wilson and Lynch each fumbled, but the Seahawks pounced on the loose ball both times.
"We had the ball on the ground a couple times," linebacker Luke Kuechly said. "We weren't able to force turnovers."
And it was needed to help the Panthers offense.
"We've got to get takeaways," McDermott said. "We didn't make enough plays."
FIELD POSITION FACTOR: Seattle made it tough on the Carolina offense by controlling the field position battle throughout the game.
The Seahawks average drive start was their 35-yard line. The Panthers' average drive start was their 17-yard line.
Additionally, Seattle had only one drive begin inside its 20-yard line. Carolina started inside its 20-yard line five times.