By Matthew Asher
Former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was known for his simple team motto: “Just win, baby.” Davis knew no matter how you were able to pull of a victory, in the end that was all that mattered. The Seattle Seahawks did just that against the Carolina Panthers, pulling out a win 12-7 to start the regular season off on a good note.
Russell Wilson Gets an A
Anytime a quarterback throws for more than 300 yards in a game without an interception he gives his team a great chance to win the game. Wilson finished the game completing 25 of 33 passes for 320 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He only ran for seven yards on five attempts and was sacked twice but it was his ability to go back to the well that gave Seattle the lead in the final minutes of the game.
Trailing 6-7 in the fourth quarter Wilson threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, the first of his NFL career. However, one play before Kearse’s touchdown, Wilson threw a nearly identical pass to Stephen Williams, but Williams couldn’t make the diving catch.
“We’d called for a shot before, and I was surprised we’d missed on that one,” Wilson said. “Maybe I threw it a little too far. I saw Kearse out there with the rest of the guys and I read the play. He was a second read, and he did a great job of attacking the football.” Kearse finished with two catches for 49 yards.
Seattle’s Defense Gets an A
First things first. Cam Newton was held to just 163 total yards. He completed just 16 of 23 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, Newton gained just 38 yards on five rushing attempts. While that’s impressive on its own, Seattle’s defense was also doing this short-handed. Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Brandon Browner (who logged a combined 119 tackles and 20 sacks in 2012) did not play in the game. Carolina led 7-3 at halftime but was shutout in the second half.
The defense also came up huge in Carolina’s final possession of the game. With the Panthers driving the ball, DeAngelo Williams broke off a 16-yard run (his longest of the game), Seattle safety Earl Thomas was able to strip the ball from Williams. Seattle recovered the football on their own 8-yard line with 5:25 remaining and the offense was able to run out the clock.
Marshawn Lynch Gets a C-
It’s a good thing Wilson threw for more than 300 yards because the running game was nearly nonexistent. Lynch finished the game with 43 yards on 17 carries, averaging 2.5 yards per carry. His longest run of the day was for 14 yards. Take that run out of the equation and Lynch averaged just 1.8 yards per attempt. That kind of effort will not earn Lynch bags of Skittles in the future.
Seattle’s Mental Focus Gets a C
With Wilson throwing for more than 300 yards and Cam Newton held to under 200 yards, why was the score so close? Penalties. Seattle was called for nine penalties totaling 109 yards. Carolina was penalized just four times for 46 yards. The ‘Hawks other problem was their complete lack of red zone efficiency.
Seattle will return to CenturyLink Field next Sunday evening where they will take on fellow NFC West opponent San Francisco. Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. PDT.
For more news and updates, visit Seattle Seahawks central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.