Seahawks hand Panthers first home loss, 30-27


CHARLOTTE -- It came down to the wire, but kicker Sebastian Janikowski won it for Seattle with a 31-yard field goal to hand the Panthers their third straight loss - their first at Bank of America Stadium this season.

Early in the fourth quarter, a Carolina face mask penalty, along with a crucial reversed fumble ruling, helped position Janikowski for a 30-yard field goal to tie the game 20-20.

On the ensuing drive, running back Christian McCaffrey was unstoppable, bursting up the middle for a 59-yard gain before following it with a 15-yard run. On third-and-2, quarterback Cam Newton found McCaffrey for an unimpeded 2-yard touchdown catch to retake the lead.

After completing four straight passes to get to the Carolina 35, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tied the game 27-all after connecting with wide receiver David Moore for a deep 35-yard touchdown pass. Moore was being covered by cornerback Corn Elder, who replaced rookie Donte Jackson after he was injured in the first quarter.

With under two minutes remaining, the Panthers' offense would get to the Seattle 34 to give kicker Graham Gano a chance at a 52-yarder, but the attempt sailed wide right. A 43-yard Wilson bomb to receiver Tyler Lockett set the table for the Janikowski kick and the Seahawks victory.

"Just stick together. We still have five games left to go. We control it," said head coach Ron Rivera. "You have to play to win. That's just the bottom line. One game series now from here on out."

Lost in the defeat were the performances of McCaffrey and Newton. With his 125 rushing yards and 112 receiving yards, McCaffrey became the first Panther to post over 100 yards in both categories in one game. He also scored two touchdowns.

Newton, who finished the first half 14-of-14 for 159 yards and a score, ended the game 25-of-30 for 256 yards and two touchdowns, and contributed 63 rushing yards. He also posted his sixth straight game with a passer rating of 100 or higher.

Wilson finished with 339 passing yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-31 completions. Lockett and Moore each had 100-plus receiving yards and a TD while running back Chris Carson added 55 rushing yards and a score.

From the onset, the Panthers' defense commanded the spotlight, but for the wrong reason. After assisting linebacker Luke Kuechly for a tone-setting tackle on the first snap of the game, Jackson exited with a quad injury and would not return. Cornerback James Bradberry made up for the blow, earning his first sack of the season on third-and-9 to end Seattle's drive.

Carolina marched into the red zone twice in the first quarter, but only managed to post points on the second trip with a 26-yard Gano field goal. The first ended with a turnover on downs after failing to score from eight yards out. Newton concluded the quarter 5-for-5 for 73 yards.

Wilson began the second quarter with a 19-yard completion, and after a few more completions, the Seahawks got on the board with a 33-yard field goal. A quick Panthers series brought the Seahawks offense back out, but linebacker Shaq Thompson exploded for a sack to push Seattle deep into their own territory and help force a punt.

Carolina would need just four plays, including a pair of reverses to receivers Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore, to score the game's first touchdown. Newton hit Samuel with a 7-yard pass to go up 10-3, and remain perfect in the half (8-for-8 for 102 yards). Carson capped a seven-play, 75-yard series with a 1-yard rush to even the score again.

With time expiring - and Carolina out of timeouts - the kicking unit hurried into formation and Gano converted a 25-yard field goal to put Carolina up 13-10 at halftime.

After marching deep into Seattle territory on four of their five first-half drives, the Panthers began the second half with another trip. Seahawks cornerback Bradley McDougald ended the bid with an interception on a pass intended for tight end Chris Manhertz on the Seattle 18.

A huge 54-yard pass from WIlson to Moore helped set up running back Rashaad Penny for a 1-yard rush to give Seattle its first lead of game at 17-13. Carolina responded with an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive, ended by 1-yard plunge from McCaffrey, to go up 20-17 and set the stage for the pivotal final frame.

The Panthers' next chance to end their skid will come Sunday when they travel to Raymond James Stadium to face Tampa Bay, who they beat 42-28 in Charlotte in Week 9.