Panthers offense goes cold in 16-12 loss to Seahawks
A chilly day at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday foreshadowed a cold performance from the Carolina Panthers offense against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Panthers (1-4) struggled against the No. 2 ranked Seahawks, tallying 190 yards of total offense in a 16-12 loss.
Quarterback Cam Newton completed 41 percent of his passes (12-of-29) for 141 yards and no touchdowns.
"You play in the NFL. You are going to have games like that," Newton said. "Obviously, we want to be able to score 40 points a game. We played an excellent team today in the Seahawks. They had an excellent game plan going into it. We still had our chance to win. In this league, you aren't going to have four or five opportunities that you can go back, look and say this lost or won us the football game. I think those opportunities were clear as day today."
Led by Newton, the Carolina offense mustered only 112 yards of offense through three and a half quarters of play, but broke through on the team's second to last drive of the game.
Newton completed five consecutive passes on the drive for 74 yards, including a pair of catches by tight end Greg Olsen for 37 yards.
Seeing those catches, Newton said, gave he and his teammates some confidence.
"Just seeing people catch the ball got me into a rhythm," he said. "I think that is the name of the game. You just throw the ball to your guys and play pitch and catch. I was inaccurate today on a lot of possessions — more than I wanted to. That last particular drive, I think we had unbelievable focus on offense and had to get the job done."
Driving down to the one-yard line of Seattle (3-2), the Panthers failed to convert on fourth down and goal when Newton's pass to a wide open Ben Hartsock in the end zone fell short.
"We had an opportunity," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. "We got ourselves down there in position. We just didn't execute and finish the play."
With the offense sputtering, the Panther defense was a bright spot Sunday despite a few key injuries.
Captain Munnerlyn, who was playing at left cornerback for the injured Chris Gamble, intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with 12:26 left in the third quarter and returned it 33 yards to give Carolina its first and only lead of the contest, 10-6.
"I was in cover three and broke on the football," Munnerlyn said of his interception. "The (receiver) ran the out route. I just broke on (the ball). I didn't see anyone there and I said I've got to take it to the house. That's what I did."
Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, who moved from wheel to middle linebacker with the absence of Jon Beason, also made an interception to go alone with 11 tackles.
Wilson, who was returning to the state where he played college football for N.C. State from 2007-11, had a solid day despite his two mistakes.
He completed 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards and a 13-yard touchdown pass to wideout Golden Tate.
"It was a huge win for us," Wilson said. "It was our first win on the road, which is crucial in this league obviously. You've got to make plays. Guys did today. It was a great game."
After forcing a safety on a mishandled Jon Ryan punt and getting the ball back with 51 seconds left, Newton and the Panthers offense got one final crack at winning the game.
However, Newton was sacked on the opening play of the drive by Bruce Irvin, who also forced a fumble that was recovered by Seattle's Alan Branch to seal the Seahawk victory.
The Panthers head into their bye week on a sour note, but Rivera said he is confident in his team's ability and potential.
"We're not going to quit," he said. "We're going to show up and we'll be back on the job tomorrow. We will find answers, and we're going to win. We will. It is going to happen. It is just a matter of putting it all together. I really do believe we have enough quality football players in that locker room."
The Panthers return to the field Oct. 21 when they host the Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Bank of America Stadium.