Panthers Hang On To First Half Win
If you were fortunate enough to watch the Seattle Seahawks taking on the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional playoff game, you saw one of the most unique football games ever played in the NFL. Never have I seen both teams in a single game play at such a high level in one half and such a low level in the other half. In the end, the Panthers got the victory, 31-24, because of their dominating first half of football.
For Seahawks’ fans, it’s an earlier end to the season that we would have liked. It’s the kind of game that leaves you thinking things like, “if only they could have done ANYTHING in the first half”. The Seahawks will have to cancel the rest of their post season plans because of that first half.
Here are my takeaways from the game.
I’m not going to blame the 10am PST start time but the simple fact of the matter is the Seahawks were asleep, on both sides of the ball, during the first half. You can blame it on whatever you want.
Carolina scored all 31 of their points in the first half. The Seahawks scored none of their 24 points in the first half.
In the first half, Russell Wilson threw two interceptions, including a pick six, and one that set up three points for the Panthers. The Seahawks defense allowed over 100 yards rushing to the Panthers. A 100 yard rusher is not something that has happened in more than two years against the Seahawks.
The defense could not stop the Panthers at all on 3rd down during the first half. They didn’t even force a punt by the Panthers until just before halftime.
In the second half, the tone completely changed the other way around. The Seahawks could do no wrong and the Panthers were the ones looking like a deer in the headlights.
Tyler Lockett opened the second half with a 50 yard kickoff return. A Panthers penalty moved the ball to the Carolina 35 yard line. That set up the Seahawks first score of the game, a 13 yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse.
The tone continued for the Seahawks in the second half with a beautiful rainbow pass by Wilson to Lockett in the end zone. The Seahawks finally were showing life but still trailed 31-14 at this point.
The Seahawks second half turnaround continued with a second touchdown to Kearse. Wilson made the improvisation scrambling play of his career when he retreated backwards and threw off his back foot to find Kearse in the back of the end zone. The play cut the Panthers lead to 10.
Still trailing by 10, late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks managed another long drive that ended in a field goal that cut the lead to seven. Their only option left was to try an onside kick, the same thing that happened to the Seahawks in the playoffs last year against the Packers.
The onside kick by Steven Hauschka was actually darn near perfect but the Seahawks could not get a player to the ball in time. The failure to recover it meant the end of the road for the Seahawks in the NFL 2015 season.
Who do you blame for this? The Seahawks certainly could have won this game had they been able to come up with any type of effort in the first half.
To me, the difference in the game was the turnovers. Carolina managed to get two that they turned into 10 points. The Seahawks got none and in the end, they could not overcome that first half deficit they dug for themselves.
The Seahawks are done for the season. It’s never too soon to start talking about what’s next for them.
Will Marshawn Lynch return to the Seahawks?
Who will they zero in on in the 2016 NFL draft?
What free agents might the Seahawks chose to pursue?
All of that, and likely more, is coming up before you can blink. I know this much. It will be anything but dull… and the Seahawks will be back, stronger than ever.