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Seahawks RB Chris Carson
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Seahawks 3 Stars: Chris Carson resumes workhorse role in great fashion

Seahawks RB Chris Carson rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers. (Getty)

The Seahawks had it the whole way, right?

Seahawks clinch playoffs, re-take NFC West lead after 49ers lose

While the Carolina Panthers tried their best in the end to come back against Seattle, the Seahawks won their franchise-best seventh road game 30-24 and are now 11-3 on the season. It was also head coach Pete Carroll’s 100th regular season win with the Seahawks.

A lot of the defense was banged up and stars on both sides of the ball stepped up in crucial situations to help Seattle bounce back from last week’s tough loss.

So, who were key factors in the Seahawks’ 11th win of the season?

Honorable mentions

Tyler Lockett looked like his usual self against Carolina. He snagged eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown and was again Wilson’s safety blanket. Lockett had been sick and battling a shin injury over recent weeks, so this was a welcome sight.

Sticking with receivers, DK Metcalf caught his sixth touchdown of the year and now has the second-most receiving yards in Seahawks rookie history.

Josh Gordon caught a beautiful 58-yard ball – more on that later – but he also threw an interception on a trick play.

Rookie linebacker Cody Barton had 10 tackles in his second start as well as a quarterback hit.

Safety Quandre Diggs was pacing the team in tackles when he left the game with an ankle injury (he didn’t return).

Defensive tackle Poona Ford made some really nice stops in the run game. He continues to be a great interior run defender.

The offensive line had some holds on the final drive but kept Russell Wilson on his feet for most of the game and created some big running lanes for Chris Carson.

Third Star: The veteran linebackers

There were some really good performances Sunday and as much as I wanted to put Lockett in here, the two veteran linebackers, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, need some love. And yes, I know I’m cheating again by picking multiple guys for one spot, but it has to be done here.

Playing without four defensive starters going in, the two knew they’d have their work cut out for them against dynamic Panthers running back Christian McCaffery. While McCaffery was his usual elusive self, it was in the passing game the linebackers made their presence felt.

Wagner had an awesome interception in the first half, stealing the ball right out of the receiver’s hands to stop a promising Carolina drive. He also had 10 tackles and two pass defenses before leaving the game with an ankle injury.

Wright was far behind his buddy in tackles, totaling just four, but he gets the last laugh in the turnover battle. He picked off two Kyle Allen passes in the second half on back-to-back Panthers drives. One of his picks set up a Jason Myers field goal.

In a game that Seattle won by just six points, taking the ball away from Carolina was critical, especially in the second half.

Second Star: Russell Wilson

Like Lockett, it appears the Wilson has returned to form. Or at least back to what Seahawks fans had seen the first nine weeks of the season.

The Seahawks quarterback looked like he did the first half of the year when he was the presumed frontrunner for the league’s MVP award, going 20 for 26 with 286 yards and two touchdowns.

He was his usual efficient self and uncorked some beautiful deep passes like the play below to Gordon.

He also threw a beautiful pass to Metcalf for a touchdown and found his favorite target Lockett eight times for 120 yards and a score.

Wilson and the passing game have received some scrutiny lately for a lack of dynamic plays and too many interceptions, so a game like this should help Seahawks fans who had concerns with the team’s passing attack.

Over the previous four games, Wilson had just four touchdowns and four interceptions. For context, he had 22 touchdowns and just one interception during the first nine games of the year.

He had a perfect passer rating in the first half and after some holds on the final drive, he had a huge 14-yard completion to Lockett on third-and-11 to keep the final drive going and help close out the game.

Wilson likely won’t win the MVP this season, but the signal caller will need more performances like today’s if the Seahawks want to make a splash in the playoffs.

First Star: Chris Carson

The Seahawks needed a big game from Carson, and they got it. Carson was again the finisher for Seattle and came up big down the stretch.

He got first downs on the final drive – two of which were negated by holding penalties – including a 10-yard run on second-and-9 to put the game on ice.

The Seahawks lost No. 2 running back Rashaad Penny for the rest of the season with a torn ACL last week, and new second-string back C.J. Prosise nearly lost a fumble and had just six touches for 25 yards.

Carson took the workhorse role again against Carolina and he answered the call, running for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, good for a 5.5 yards per carry average. His second touchdown was a big run on fourth down in the red zone, as seen here.

Carolina’s McCaffery also had a great game with 175 total scrimmage yards and two touchdowns, but Carson came out on top with the win thanks to his tough running style that the Seahawks love so much.

Next up for Carson and company is a home game against the Arizona Cardinals, who are in last place in the NFC West.

Follow 710Sports.com’s Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

Seahawks win | Carroll’s update on defense | Reaction | O’Neil’s column