CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to an outstanding comeback late in the fourth quarter against NFC foe the Seattle Seahawks. Despite a mostly egregious passing attack through the first three quarters, Newton found a rhythm with tight end Greg Olsen and the two capitalized on a 32 yard game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play.
The Panthers decided to save their best for last, as they were a different team in the fourth quarter. Cam Newton started the game completing 9 of 23 passing attempts for around 100 yards, but after his lackluster start he went 12 for 14 for nearly 170 yards against the best secondary in the NFL with minimal weapons at his disposal. Newton threw for 162 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
The wide receivers on both sides were mostly held in check all game long, so the two quarterbacks utilized two of the best tight ends in the NFL instead in Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham. Carolina’s defense did not have much of an answer for Graham, who ended the game with 140 yards receiving. Olsen was the difference in this game as he not only scored the winning touchdown, but also caught a huge leaping 31-yard catch and run to put the Panthers at the 2 yard line with under 5 minutes and down by two scores.
The key to Carolina’s success was not settling for field goals and being able to create four 80-yard drives resulting in touchdowns. Although Cam’s late-game passing will be the hot topic of discussion, the running game did not disappoint. Jonathan Stewart was the beast on the field today, not Marshawn Lynch, as he continually chewed up yards after contact. Stewart added two goal line touchdowns and Cam added another.
Carolina’s defense came up big as well, forcing the Seahawks to punt multiple times in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers’ offense the chance to win the game. Luke Kuechly was electric in his return from a concussion injury, as he was involved in 14 tackles total. Josh Norman was quiet today because Russell Wilson smartly didn’t target a single receiver he was covering.
Prior to today, the Seahawks were 28-2 at home with Russell Wilson as their quarterback, giving them the status as the most dominant team to play in their own stadium. After making it to the Super Bowl in the past two seasons, the Seahawks will drop to 2-4 and face an uphill battle to make it back to the playoffs. On the other hand, the Panthers stay undefeated and maintain the top spot of the NFC South. Looking towards the playoffs, the Panthers are currently the 2nd seed in the NFC behind the Green Bay Packers.
The Panthers enter a 3-game home stretch in which they will play in primetime slots their first two games. Chip Kelly’s Eagles are next, followed by the Indianapolis Colts and then the Green Bay Packers. Looking at the Panthers schedule, the Seahawks game was likely to be the hardest game they will play besides arguably the Packers at home. Of Carolina’s 11 remaining games, 4 are against teams with a winning record currently. If the Panthers continue to play resiliently, they could hold a top seed in the playoffs and be poised for a deep playoff push.