Seahawks Beat Panthers: What sticks with us the day after

Sep 25, 2023, 10:13 AM | Updated: 12:58 pm

Seattle Seahawks Kenneth Walker III...

Kenneth Walker III of the Seattle Seahawks stiff arms CJ Henderson of the Carolina Panthers. (Christopher Mast/Getty Images)

(Christopher Mast/Getty Images)

It’s about how you finish, right? Consider Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks win a reminder of Pete Carroll’s mantra.

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After a Week 2 shootout against the Detroit Lions, the Seahawks’ offense fell flat early against the Carolina Panthers. Drives stalled not just at midfield, but in the red zone. Geno Smith and the Seahawks drove to the Carolina 15, 17, and 19-yard line on three separate drives in the second quarter, and settled for field goals each time. They converted a single third down on eight attempts, and the normally accurate Smith threw his first interception of the season.

You can probably hear Carroll’s voice in your head – or in a number of postgame locker room videos – asking the question now: Can you win in the first quarter? Can you win in the second quarter?

The answer Sunday was no. Throw together four scoring drives, including three that resulted in touchdowns, in the second half and you’ve got yourself a strong finish and enough production to separate yourself from a struggling Panthers offense.

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Here are two more things sticking with us the morning after Seattle’s 37-27 win in Week 3.

Kenneth Walker III met the moment

Walker fell three yards short of what would’ve been his first 100-yard rushing game of the season, but that did little to take away from a stellar performance. In fact, his 97 yards on 18 carries are the most allowed to any single running back against the Panthers this year.

In my Week 3 preview, I predicted Walker and rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon would each have a shot at a big game. For the former, that had more to do with the loss of Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson than anything else, though Seattle’s focus on getting Walker downfield more certainly influenced it, as well. They didn’t necessarily accomplish that though. At least not consistently up the middle. Some of Walker’s most explosive plays were ones he created by bouncing outside and breaking tackles.

That the offensive line didn’t routinely overpower the Panthers defensive line isn’t surprising, and that’s also what made Walker’s day special. The Seahawks entered the game short three starters up front, and they needed a strong day on the ground to take pressure off Smith. Walker not only provided that relief but also contributed as a pass catcher with 59 receiving yards, and delivered a key block on a catch by tight end Noah Fant to take the Seahawks inside the Panthers’ 5-yard line on a touchdown drive.

Fans might’ve been excited for Walker’s day, but Walker himself was most excited on another play: rookie halfback Zach Charbonnet bulldozed his way down the left sideline for 12 yards in the fourth quarter and delivered a blow to a Panthers defender near the goal line. Walker, on the opposite side of the field, leapt in the air and held his arms up both in celebration – perhaps also hoping this run was a score.

Bend-but-don’t-break is back in action

Allowing 400-plus net yards, 60% on third down attempts, and 30 points in Week 1 isn’t bending. It’s breaking. And it’s what had become so hard for fans to stomach from Seattle’s defenses over the last couple years.

Firstly, the best version of the Hawks’ defense didn’t allow yardage like that to anyone, so there was little bending and certainly no breaking. But it was easier to deal with Seattle routinely finishing in the bottom third of the league in yards allowed when the defense could prove stout enough inside the 20s.

Seattle managed a version of that in Week 3. For a third consecutive week, the Seahawks allowed too many yards for comfort and nearly 30 points, but for the second week in a row they also delivered a few big plays. There was no pick-6, but there was pressure on Panthers quarterback Andy Dalton early. They allowed the Panthers inside the red zone just once through most of the game, with the second visit only coming with less than 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the game mostly out of hand.

Also helping matters? The 12s lived up to their name. The Panthers had eight false start penalties, including three in a matter of four plays during a key late drive.

“It was awesome,” safety Quandre Diggs said postgame of the fan atmosphere. “I feel like when you give them something to cheer for, they always do their thing. For me, it’s just go out there and be consistent. We emphasize being at home; this is what it’s like being at home. You have to take care of your home. We didn’t do that the first week so we owe it to our fans to be better. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ Carroll on what’s good, what still needs work after Week 3 win
Seattle Seahawks Instant Reaction: Walker shines in Week 3 win
The Big Plays: Seahawks pull away late to beat Panthers 37-27
Recap: Second half sparks Seattle Seahawks past Carolina 37-27

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