By Danny O’Neil
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Seahawks weren’t given anything in their season opener.
They had to go on the road and take one away in an almost literal fashion as defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas combined to force a fumble from Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams, who was only 8 yards away from the go-ahead touchdown.
Seattle never let go of the ball, winning 12-7 on the road after running out the clock over the final 5 minutes. The Seahawks sealed the game with a 14-yard run by Marshawn Lynch just before the 2-minute warning. Seattle was able to take a knee on three plays to run out the clock.
The significance: Seattle won its road opener for the first time since 2006 when the Seahawks beat the Lions 9-6. The Seahawks were 0-5 in September under coach Pete Carroll before Sunday’s game.
Play of the game: Russell Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter was the second-longest scoring pass in Wilson’s career and the first touchdown for Kearse. It came one play after Stephen Williams narrowly missed a diving reception in virtually the same spot.
Turning point: DeAngelo Williams had the Panthers inside the Seattle 10 down by five points after he cut inside of safety Earl Thomas, but cornerback Richard Sherman hit Williams and Thomas knocked the ball loose. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel got downfield to recover the ball in the pile.
Player of the game: Doug Baldwin caught seven passes for 91 yards, but it wasn’t the total that was as important as the timing. He caught four of those passes to convert third downs, the most impressive being a second-quarter play on the sideline on a ball Wilson appeared to be throwing away.
The good: Seattle held Carolina scoreless in the second half. Baldwin revisited his 2011 role as a third-down money man. Wilson completed 11 consecutive passes during one stretch from the first through the third quarter.
The bad: Seattle’s first three red-zone possessions resulted in six points as the Seahawks had two drives stalled by penalties and settled for field goals and turned the ball over on a sack in the final 2 minutes of the first half. The Seahawks continued their problem with penalties, flagged four times in the third quarter alone. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 43 yards, his lowest single-game total since Game 6 last year against New England when he had 41 yards against the Patriots.
The ugly: Seattle had the ball inside the Carolina 20 twice in the first half, but scored a total of seven points. The Panthers scored seven points the only time they drove the ball past midfield. Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander received a personal-foul penalty and was ejected for hitting Seattle offensive lineman Breno Giacomini in the helmet after the Panthers’ third-down sack in the final 2 minutes of the first half. Seattle’s Mike Person, the backup offensive tackle and de facto No. 3 tight end, was penalized twice.
Seattle: DE Chris Clemons, DE Cliff Avril, CB Brandon Browner, OT Alvin Bailey, OT Michael Bowie, DT Jordan Hill, LB John Lotulelei.
Carolina: S Mike Mitchell, RB Kenjon Barner, CB James Dockery, C Brian Folkerts, G Amini Silatolu, WR Domenik Hixon, DE Wes Horton
Seattle: S Jeron Johnson suffered a strained hamstring on the opening kickoff and did not return.
Carolina: T Garry Williams suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return.