The Big Headline
We all know the story when it comes to the Panthers and the turnover battle. Entering Sunday's game, Carolina had just one takeaway compared to 13 turnovers over the course of the Panthers' five-game losing skid.
Sunday's 30-24 loss to the Seahawks was no different.
Quarterback Kyle Allen threw three picks and the Panthers defense was only able to respond with one takeaway of its own.
Allen's first interception came with 30 seconds left in the half when linebacker Bobby Wagner stole the ball on a pass intended for wide receiver Chris Hogan. The interception proved particularly costly late in the half, as it kept the Panthers from attempting a field goal before the break.
Then, in the third quarter, Allen was picked off by linebacker K.J. Wright on back-to-back pass attempts. The defense bailed Allen out after Wright's first pick when safety Tre Boston intercepted a trick pass two plays later, but the linebacker's second pick resulted in a Seattle field goal.
Boston's interception ended up being the Panthers only takeaway of the day, bringing the total turnover differential to minus 14 over the now six-game losing streak.
At this point in the season, there's no sense in leaving any tricks in the bag.
That much was clear from the start on Sunday, where offensive coordinator Scott Turner seemingly emptied his playbook. On the Panthers first scoring drive, Turner found a number of ways to get the ball into his playmakers' hands, from shifts to screens and quite a few jet sweeps.
The most intriguing play on that drive came when running back Christian McCaffrey motioned from the backfield to align out wide with wide receiver Curtis Samuel shifting to replace him at running back. It looked strange using Samuel as a pass blocker when Allen dropped back to throw, but after getting lost at the line of scrimmage, Samuel slipped out to catch a screen and pick up 12 yards.
Later in the series, after jet sweeps to McCaffrey and wide receiver DJ Moore, Samuel's number was called once again. Whether it was intentional or a happy accident, Samuel caught a direct snap on an end around and set the Panthers up inside the Seahawks' 10-yard line.
Thanks to all of the end arounds and misdirection, a fake jet sweep to Samuel three plays later opened up a path for McCaffrey to dash up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown.
Tough day for Donte
A week after giving up a 93-yard touchdown and criticizing the defensive play calling, cornerback Donte Jackson's Sunday wasn't much better this week.
On the Seahawks' second possession, Jackson was matched up with wide receiver Tyler Lockett on a deep corner route. As Jackson tracked the ball over his shoulder, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tossed a perfect ball just past Jackson's outstretched arms to Lockett for a 44-yard gain. Four play later, Wilson picked on Jackson again when wide receiver DK Metcalf went up and over the defensive back for a 19-yard touchdown catch.
Then, when the Panthers had the Seahawks backed up inside their own 20 early in the second quarter, No. 26 was targeted again. This time, the result was a 58-yard bomb to wide receiver Josh Gordon to completely flip the field and set up Seattle's next touchdown – where Jackson was again involved.
All in all, it was a first half to forget for Jackson.
Takeaways, taken away
On top of all of the actual turnovers on Sunday, there were a few would-be takeaways that gave the Panthers a few moments of false hope.
Early in the second quarter, pass rushers Stacy McGee and Bruce Irvin got to Wilson for a strip sack that defensive end Mario Addison was able to recover. The only thing is, it didn't count – defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was called offsides.
Two plays later, the Seahawks were in the end zone. They always talk about points off takeaways, but you never hear about points off takeaways taken away.
Late in the same quarter it looked like the Panthers had another reason to get excited.
With the Seahawks backed up on their own 3-yard line, running back C.J. Prosise coughed up the ball on his way to the turf and Boston recovered the ball for the Panthers. Carolina would have a chance to get a few more points on the board before the break – or so they thought.
The fumble was overturned, giving the Seahawks the chance to punt the ball away. Instead of starting at the opposing 15-yard line, now the Panthers were pushed all the way back to their own 40-yard line and left without a crack at the end zone.
Sometimes those things are out of your control, but it doesn't make them any less deflating.