The Seahawks did not blame the re-sodded field at Bank of America Stadium for Sunday’s loss, but several players were forced to change their cleats in the game to improve their footing.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The conventional wisdom was that the elements wouldn’t be much of a factor for the Seahawks in their divisional playoff game Sunday at Carolina after enduring frigid Minnesota the week before.
Instead, the recently re-sodded field at Bank of America Stadium (made slippery by an early-morning mix of snow and rain) helped create conditions that took awhile for some Seahawks to figure out and might have played a small part in the 31-24 defeat Sunday.
The middle of the field was re-sodded the first week of January after two games in five days had been played there, including the Belk Bowl game.
“It was pretty slippery,’’ said Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse, who stumbled coming out of his break on an early third-down pass that went incomplete. “There were some areas that were tough to get your footing on.
“But I’m not going to blame the field for the result of the game. You are going to play in all different types of conditions, whatever it’s going to be — negative 6 degrees or a slippery field. You’ve just got to be ready for any situation.’’
Several Seahawks said they changed their cleats early in the game, and that improved the footing.
Safety Earl Thomas said he fell on Carolina’s first play of the game, a 59-yard run by Jonathan Stewart.
“We just got in our own way in the first half,’’ Thomas said. “Sometimes you’ve got to get adjusted to the elements. The first play, the running back broke, I slipped on a crazy field. I should have had the right cleats, should have listened to Coach.
“But like I said, we got in our own way. We came out and played till the very, very end. Second half they didn’t do very much. I think we did a great job of sticking to our guns and challenging them.’’
Quarterback Russell Wilson said he changed his footwear after warmups.
“I noticed it was a little slippery in the pregame,’’ he said. “I put the long, detached (cleats) in just to make sure that I was ready to go.’’
Coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t think the conditions were an issue, adding that “both teams’’ had to play on the field.
Carroll’s decision backfires
After rallying from a 31-0 deficit and falling short, the Seahawks lamented a decision at the end of the first half.
Carroll decided to go for it on fourth-and-five at the Carolina 18-yard line with 2:22 to play and trailing 31-0. A pass to Doug Baldwin came up a yard short.
“I’ll be kicking myself, because we didn’t convert (that play),’’ Carroll said. “To make that a good decision, you have to win it. We talked all about it. I didn’t want to give up the three points, but I thought we had a chance to make the fourth-and-five, felt like we had a little momentum. And that (was a factor) at the end as we can see.’’
Injuries hurt Seahawks lines
The Seahawks suffered significant injuries that sidelined left tackle Russell Okung and defensive end Cliff Avril — both in the second quarter.
Okung suffered a dislocated shoulder when he tried to block Mario Addison on a play in which Addison hit Wilson, causing a short throw that was intercepted and resulted in a Carolina field goal.
“He dislocated his shoulder on that punch,’’ Carroll said. “It just popped out. How that happens I don’t know, but it did on the rush.’’
Alvin Bailey played the rest of the game at left tackle.
Avril suffered a jammed neck when he made a tackle on Carolina’s Mike Tolbert late in the second quarter. He did not return, but Carroll said Avril did not suffer any significant damage.
“He is fine,’’ Carroll said. “He had been cleared. His neck was jammed, but he was fine.’’
Frank Clark got the bulk of the snaps in place of Avril.
Carroll said safety Kam Chancellor also “got banged’’ on the opening kickoff, which was why he did not play on the first series of the game.
Newton throws fan’s ‘12’ flag
After the victory Sunday, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was captured on video throwing a fan’s “12” flag during the Panthers’ postgame celebration.
Newton was high-fiving fans at Bank of America Stadium when a “12” flag was lowered in front of him.
Newton took the flag, balled it up and tossed it away. He then resumed high-fiving the fans.