Seahawks’ offense and defense barely get passing grades for shocking home defeat to Carolina Panthers.
Some may wonder if the Seahawks are simply finished, falling to 2-4 after a stunning 27-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle led 23-14 early in the fourth quarter but allowed two touchdowns in the final 3:55 to blow the lead.
The defense allowed three 80-yard drives in the second half, the last one capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to tight end Greg Olsen with 32 seconds remaining, a play in which the Seahawks also again had some confusion in the secondary on the play call.
The offense, meanwhile, was held to 332 yards, the second-lowest total of the season, and 5.4 yards per play, also the second-worst this season.
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Maybe the best news is that Seattle won’t have much time to linger on the loss as they play at San Francisco on Thursday night, concluding a grueling stretch of four games in 18 days.
For one week, everyone can put to bed the talk that the Seahawks aren’t using Jimmy Graham enough. He led the Seahawks with 140 yards on eight receptions.
The Seahawks, though, had little else consistent about their offense.
Despite the return of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks were held to 115 yards rushing (he rushed for 54 on 17 carries).
A Seattle team that last year averaged 172.6 yards on the ground has topped that total just once and has been held to 124 yards or fewer four times.
And other than Graham, the passing game was erratic. Until a couple of desperation throws to Doug Baldwin on the final drive, no Seattle receiver other than Graham was targeted more than twice.
Take out a 40-yard trick play touchdown from Russell Wilson to Ricardo Lockette, and the longest non-Graham pass play of the day was 16 yards.
Wilson was sacked four times, and now has been sacked an NFL-leading 26 times — one coming on the second-to-last possession when the Seahawks needed perhaps one more first down to put the game away.
Seattle made a switch at center, going with Patrick Lewis instead of Drew Nowak, the first change to the offensive line this season. It was hard to tell at first glance if that had much of an impact.
The fourth-quarter collapses have officially gone from something to talk about to truly concerning. Seattle let a nine-point fourth-quarter lead slip away, and for the second straight week, blew a double-digit second-half lead.
The Seahawks led 20-7 with 8:49 to play in the third quarter, the type of lead that, in the past few seasons would have been insurmountable.
The Seahawks allowed a season-high 135 rushing yards, something coach Pete Carroll said was influenced by playing without middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who did not suit up due to a pectoral muscle injury suffered last week.
That left K.J.Wright playing in the middle and second-year player Kevin Pierre-Louis getting his first career start at weakside linebacker.
More alarming was the way the Seahawks let a less-than-imposing passing attack have its way late. Carolina entered the game 29th in the NFL in passing at 189.8 yards per game. The Panthers played to that level for most of three quarters, with Cam Newton throwing two interceptions.
But then they came alive.
Newton connected on each of his last 11 passes (other than a spike to stop the clock) for 155 yards. The Seahawks again had issues stopping a tight end, as Olsen had seven receptions for 131 yards, three for 74 yards on the final two drives.
The pass rush was good for a while, but Newton had too much time to throw on some of the key plays late. Carolina ran 72 plays, second-most against the Seahawks this season, and the front four seemed to wear down as the game wore on.
Seattle had to reach deep into its roster late, and used fullback Will Tukuafu as one of its four rushers on the winning touchdown.
Teams appear to have learned all about Tyler Lockett and the Panthers kept him in check throughout. Lockett returned just two of five kickoffs, and got just 13 and 14 yards on those, leaving Seattle starting at its 10 and 9, respectively.
He also was limited to 28 yards on four punt returns.
Seattle’s kick coverage was solid, in part because Steven Hauschka booted all six kickoffs so they couldn’t be returned.
Hauschka also hit all three of his field goal attempts and is now 14 of 14 this season, and punter Jon Ryan booted a 68-yarder that almost pinned Carolina near its goal line before its final drive.
The Seahawks also caught a break when Graham Gano missed the point after following a Carolina touchdown in the fourth quarter, leaving the score at 23-20.
Information in this article, originally published Oct. 18, 2015, was corrected Oct. 19, 2015. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Jimmy Graham had 12 catches vs. the Panthers. He had eight.