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Rapid Reactions: Panthers earn first road win of season, 30-24 in Seattle

Chuba Hubbard

SEATTLE — The Panthers have done some good things in the last two months, but interim coach Steve Wilks has continued to insist they had to finish.

Sunday, they finally did.

And they got some help.

Now it gets interesting.

The Panthers built a big early lead, and put a long touchdown drive on the board when they needed it most in the fourth quarter, and left Seattle with a win as rare as it was satisfying, beating the Seahawks 30-24 to improve to 5-8.

It was just their second win ever at Lumen Field (along with the 2015 game during the Super Bowl season), and it snapped a nine-game losing streak on the road overall, the longest in the league.

Coupled with the Buccaneers' loss at San Francisco, the Panthers are just a game out of first place in the NFC South.

They have a chance going into the last four games — Pittsburgh and Detroit at home, then at Tampa and New Orleans — and it's starting to look like that 2014 run Wilks keeps talking about (when they won the division at 7-8-1).

They did it Sunday with a defense that came up at big times, with Jaycee Horn and CJ Henderson picking off MVP candidate Geno Smith, who had multiple interceptions for the first time this season.

They also did it with a bludgeoning run game as they continued to build on a physical identity.

At one point, they put three extra offensive linemen on the field, and when they needed it most in the fourth quarter, Chuba Hubbard and Raheem Blackshear combined to power a 10-play, 74-yard touchdown drive, with 68 of those yards coming on the ground.

That was a defining moment for a team that had been looking for one, after they raced to a 17-0 lead and had to hang on.

They made plays on offense and defense, as a long field goal drive to start the game was followed quickly by Horn's interception of Smith.

A play later, Sam Darnold hit Shi Smith for a touchdown, then they got a defensive stop, and then another long drive, this one ending with a Hubbard touchdown run and a 17-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Seahawks eventually woke up, cutting Carolina's lead to 20-17 early in the third quarter. But the Panthers didn't fold, playing sharply in the second half when they needed it the most.

Now, they have a personality.

And most importantly, a chance to play games that matter in December.

— Long snapper JJ Jansen broke the franchise's all-time games played record, appearing in his 222nd career game.

— Linebacker Brandon Smith left the game after a punt in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.

View the best in-game photos from Carolina's Week 14 game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

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