SEATTLE – You can't give up. Not when a wide receiver makes an incredible catch over the top of your safety for a 40-yard touchdown. Not when a pass is deflected and flutters into the air for a helpless interception. Not when you're down two scores in the second half against a Seattle Seahawks team that's won 24 of its last 26 regular season home games. Not when a record crowd at CenturyLink Field is so loud you can't hear the teammate next to you.
You just keep pounding.
"The epitome of 'Keep Pounding' was this game," cornerback Josh Norman said. "The resilience of this team is unreal right now."
The Panthers came back to win 27-23 over the Seahawks, improving to 5-0.
"This was one of the bigger victories that we have had since I've been here," head coach Ron Rivera said.
Many may have anticipated a fifth consecutive loss to Seattle in four seasons for Rivera's Panthers when the Seahawks took a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter. But it was far from over.
The Panthers rallied back with a pair of 80-yard scoring drives that both ended with 1-yard touchdowns from running back Jonathan Stewart. Graham Gano missed the extra point following Stewart's second score, so with 2:20 remaining in the game, Carolina took over at its own 20-yard line trailing 23-20.
Quarterback Cam Newton wisely checked a pass down to Stewart for a gain of 8. Then he connected with wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. for 18. Following the two-minute warning, he hit tight end Ed Dickson for 14.
Newton then was sacked for a 9-yard loss, and Carolina burned its final timeout with 1:20 to go. Undeterred, the Panthers marched on. Rookie wideout Devin Funchess recorded a 16-yard reception. On third-and-3, veteran Jerricho Cotchery made a contested catch and fought for seven yards.
Newton spiked the ball with 36 seconds left. Second-and-10 from the Seattle 26 loomed. The crowd was roaring and the play clock was ticking down to zero.
"That was a little chaotic," tight end Greg Olsen said. "We were getting low on the clock, and we were trying to get the right personnel group to get that play called motioning from the sidelines. At some point Cam just yelled it out and everyone just ran to the line – didn't make any points, we didn't call out (signals), just snapped and ran the play."
Newton got the ball from center Ryan Kalil just in time. Olsen, split to the right, sprinted down the seam past three Seahawks defenders. There was a breakdown in coverage and, suddenly, Olsen was wide open in the end zone.
All he had to do was catch the game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass.
"It was a team win and an unbelievable catch by him, an unbelievable game," said Newton, who completed all six of his pass attempts during the decisive drive. "(Greg) was there when I needed him most."
This game played out just as recent history between these teams suggested it would. It was extremely physical. It was intense. It featured tough defense. And it came down to the wire.
"We finally got over that hump and made one more play than they did," Norman said.
The Seahawks led 10-7 at halftime. Carolina threatened to tie or take the lead before the break, but Newton's play-action pass for Olsen on fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 37 fell incomplete.
Seattle extended its lead quickly in the third quarter. Running back Marshawn Lynch took a pitch from quarterback Russell Wilson and threw it back to him. Wilson then launched a deep ball to wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, who snatched the ball away from Kurt Coleman for a spectacular 40-yard touchdown.
Newton was picked off for the second time on the ensuing possession when defensive end Cliff Avril altered his throw and safety Kam Chancellor made a diving interception. It led to a 50-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka.
It was all going the way of the two-time NFC champions.
"When things were looking bad, we kept pounding, we kept pounding," linebacker Thomas Davis said. "That's what we do."
And these Panthers keep finding ways to win.
"This lets us know," safety Roman Harper said, "that when we play the type of ball that we are capable of, we can beat anybody anytime anywhere. It's going to build confidence for us going forward."
View game action photos from Carolina's 27-23 win over Seattle.