Panthers lose to Seahawks in sloppy season opener

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fired a 43-yard touchdown strike to a leaping Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter for a 12-7 season-opening victory over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

Seattle failed to connect on a two-point conversion pass, but it didn’t matter. Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas forced Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams’ fumble at the Seattle 8 yard-line with 5:25 remaining. Tony McDaniel recovered the ball, negating a potential go-ahead drive, and the Panthers never got the ball back.

The Panthers would have given up the ball earlier on their final possession, which started following a punt inside their 15-yard line, but a third-down facemask penalty on Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett prolonged the possession. Another personal foul against Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor pushed the ball into Seattle territory.

On three consecutive trips inside Carolina territory bridging the second and third quarters, the Seahawks managed a total of three points. The Panthers’ offense kept stalling as well, as quarterback Cam Newton threw for just 125 yards on 16-for-23 passing.

The Panthers went ahead on their only full second-quarter possession, moving 80 yards in 11 plays, capped by Steve Smith’s 3-yard catch from Newton. Their other chance with the ball lasted just one play before halftime.

Carolina escaped trouble in the last minute of the first half when the Seahawks reached the Panthers’ 12 before Charles Johnson’s sack of Wilson dislodged the ball. Johnson fell on the fumble.

The Seahawks didn’t pick up their initial first down until their third possession late in the first quarter, with that leading to the game’s first points on Steven Hauschka’s 27-yard field goal with 9:36 left in the second quarter. The 15-play, 74-yard drive chewed up almost nine minutes. They didn’t score again until Hauschka connected from 40 yards out with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter.

Photo by Joel Beachum, Carolina Clicks Photos

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