Picking up right from where he left off against Atlanta last season, Wilson had his first regular season 300-yard passing game after throwing for 385 yards against the Falcons in the playoffs.
The Seahawks’ new offensive captain completed 25 of his 33 passes, after going 1-for-5 on his first two drives, on his way to a 320 yard passing game. Of those yards, 43 of them came courtesy of the go-ahead touchdown catch by Jermaine Kearse.
Kearse’s catch came just one play after Stephen Williams dropped a pass that would have put the Seahawks inside the 10-yard line. The play put Seattle up 12-7, and that’s where the score stayed after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
With 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Panthers responded with a 72-yard drive that ended just inside the Seahawks 10-yard line. After missing a tackle, Earl Thomas came from behind to punch the ball from DeAngelo William’s arms. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel recovered the fumble and the Seahawks’ offense took over.
In his post-game press conference, Wilson recognized the significance of the play Thomas made on defense and how his performance spoke to the kind of effort the team wants to give every week.
“That was just an awesome play by Earl Thomas,” said Wilson. “That shows what our football team is all about. You know, that relentless nature to just keep playing. That competitive nature to go after the ball.”
If not for a 13-yard catch by Doug Baldwin on third down, the Seahawks defense would’ve had to come back out on the field. Instead, Seattle drove down the field in a way most fans wanted to see through the first 56 minutes of the game.
Golden Tate took a short pass for 18 yards, Derek Coleman romped for an 11-yard gain on a short pass, and Marshawn Lynch displayed the kind of relentless style spectators have become accustomed to on a 14-yard run.
Lynch finished the game with only 43 yards on 17 attempts. The defensive front by the Panthers put pressure on Wilson all day while Lynch had almost no room to run. Head coach Pete Carroll said he was less than impressed with the run game during his post-game press conference.
“We did not feel good at all about the way we ran the football today,” said Carroll. “We thought we would be better than that. We had a really nice array of things that we wanted to do and we tried them all.“
Not only did Carolina give Seattle’s offensive line problems, they had their own problems with penalties. Seattle was penalized nine times for 109 yards overall, and four of those penalties went to the offensive line.
Red zone penalties were the biggest issue of the game for the Seahawks. Seattle was penalized on two of their three drives within 20 yards of the goal line. Both of those drives finished with Steven Hauschka field goals. Their only other trip ended when Wilson was sacked and turned the ball over just one play after a deep 23-yard pass to Baldwin.
Baldwin was the highlight of Seattle’s receiving corps, as he came up with tremendous catches in clutch moments. Four of his seven catches came on third down.
He had an incredible reception on a play where he tiptoed along the sideline on a comeback route with Wilson scrambling around the pocket. Wilson was seemingly throwing the ball away when Baldwin made the incredible grab.
“I knew Doug was coming back, and I knew I was about to get blown up,” said Wilson. “So I tried to throw it where nobody could get it and somehow he raced to it.”
The Seahawks also had noteworthy plays on special teams. On Seattle’s first punt of the game, Jon Ryan had a punt from the back of the end zone that was caught in the air at the 25-yard line. Officially a 69-yard punt, it was closer to 80-yards from where it came off Ryan’s foot.
Chris Maragos also came up with a fumble recovery when a Ryan punt hit a Carolina defender early in the third quarter, which ultimately helped in shifting field position for Seattle in the second half.
Faced with an opportunity to win the game in their season opener on the road last season, Wilson had the chance and couldn’t get the job done. One year later, with game experience and rapport with his receivers, those experiences are what helped to make the difference in the game.
“I think this is a different team than the first game a year ago,” said Carroll. “We were in a similar situation a year ago and couldn’t find a way to get it done and we did today. It’s a world of difference.”