Late TD in Seattle moves Panthers to 5-0
SEATTLE (AP) Cam Newton sang and danced in celebration. And when he stopped, he gave Greg Olsen a hard time for twice being brought down at the 1-yard line before finally getting in the end zone when it mattered most.
This one meant a little more for the Carolina Panthers, winning on the home field of the two-time NFC champs.
”This was one of the bigger victories we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.
Newton capped Carolina’s fourth-quarter rally with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Olsen with 32 seconds left, and the Panthers improved to 5-0, rallying for a stunning 27-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Down 23-14, Carolina went 80 yards on each of its final two possessions for touchdowns that left the Panthers jubilant and the Seahawks stinging about a second straight fourth-quarter collapse.
Carolina winning its first four games was impressive. But this victory adds the validity.
”It’s a great win, but it does only count for one,” Olsen said. ”That’s the reality of this business. But it felt good. We’ve had our battles against these guys.”
Newton was 12 of 15 for 169 yards in the fourth quarter and threw for 269 yards overall. His first 80-yard drive in the final quarter resulted in Jonathan Stewart’s second 1-yard touchdown run with 3:55 left to cut Seattle’s lead to 23-20. But Graham Gano pulled the extra point wide left.
After Carolina’s defense forced Seattle to punt, Newton led a final 80-yard scoring drive that left Seattle stunned for the second straight week.
”We’re doing what we expected to do,” Newton said. ”It comes as no surprise to us. It was going to be a big game. We were going to expect a lot from so many players.”
Carolina took possession at its 20 with 2:20 remaining and two quick passes got the ball to its 46 at the two-minute warning. Newton hit Ed Dickson to the Seattle 40, but Bruce Irvin sacked Newton back near midfield, forcing them to use their final timeout with 1:20 remaining.
Newton rebounded to hit Devin Funchess for 16 yards and Jerricho Cotchery caught a contested 7-yard pass. After spiking the ball and moving quickly to the line, Newton saw confusion in Seattle’s secondary, hitting Olsen wide open for the winning score with All-Pros Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman looking at each other in confusion.
The reason Olsen was so wide open was mixed signals in Seattle’s secondary. Sherman got one call from the sideline while Thomas and others got a different call. The result was Olsen running uncovered.
”You’re not open that much against these guys,” Olsen said. ”They cover so much ground, there’s usually bodies around you when you catch the ball. But we’ll take it.”
An early wake-up call certain didn’t help Carolina’s cause. A fire alarm was pulled in the Panthers’ hotel around 5:40 a.m. PDT on Sunday morning, causing the players and staff to briefly evacuate some 7 1/2 hours before kickoff.
Instead of becoming a story line, it became a footnote. Stewart rushed for 78 yards and Carolina’s defense did its part in keeping everyone not named Jimmy Graham under control.
Russell Wilson threw for 239 yards and found Graham eight times for 140 yards, but the Seahawks lost at home for just the second time in the past two seasons.
Seattle looked fine through three quarters with Wilson and Graham connecting and the defense holding Newton under control – aside from one long touchdown drive in the first half. Seattle took a 17-7 lead when Wilson hit Ricardo Lockette for a 40-yard TD on a double pass.
But the fourth-quarter problems festered again. Seattle is being outscored 61-27 in the fourth quarter and overtime, and 40-3 the past three games.
”It’s very frustrating, especially when you know we had them,” Thomas said. ”We don’t (stink). We know who we are. We’re not finishing. We know we’re going to be in those pressure situations every game.”
NOTES: Carolina is 5-0 for the second time in franchise history. The previous year was 2003 when the Panthers went 11-5 and reached the Super Bowl. … Marshawn Lynch returned after missing the previous 2 1/2 games because of a hamstring injury, but finished with 54 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. … Carolina LB Luke Kuechly had 14 tackles in his return after missing three games with a concussion. … Seattle LB Bobby Wagner (pectoral) did not play in hopes he’ll be able to go Thursday against San Francisco, Carroll said.
AP NFL websites: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL