The Carolina Panthers inability to convert on third down and score touchdowns in the red zone, doomed them in a key NFC matchup. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Panthers, 30-27. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
The term “all-purpose” may be thrown around a little too much. However, it certainly applies to McCaffrey, who finished with 125 rushing yards and 112 yards receiving against the Seahawks. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner used McCaffrey every which way against the Seahawks: swing passes, runs between the tackles, single back in the option game, split out wide and on screens. The main cause for concern in Carolina is that the offense could be seen as too vanilla. Besides McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, who caught eight passes for 91 yards, no other player tallied more than 50 yards. The Panthers looked predictable at times, especially on 3rd down (3-of-8 against the Seahawks) and in the red zone (3 touchdowns on 7 attempts). In his first season as coordinator, Turner has showed the ability to put his playmakers in position to make plays, however, he needs more players to step up in both third down and Red Zone situations.
"McCaffrey was awesome. Cam (Newton) was awesome. But when they got into the red zone, we stopped them. We had four big stops, and they were all crucial,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll during the postgame press conference.
Middle linebackers duel
A game might not feature a better matchup of opposing middle linebackers than Sunday's contest, Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly combined for 25 tackles and one tackle for loss. Both players led their teams in tackles and are the best players on their respective defenses. Wagner was able to stand Cam Newton up at the line of scrimmage on a critical 4th and 2, preventing the Panthers from scoring on their first drive. On the other side of the ball, Kuechly helped hold the Seahawks number one ranked rushing offense to just 75 yards.
"Luke Kuechly (pictured left) is one of the best linebackers in the game, so you know he's going to make a couple plays," Seahawks running back Chris Carson said during the postgame press conference. "For the most part we did what we could do in the run game."
You can tell a lot about the quarterback's trust factor by looking at who he throws to on third down. By that measure, Tyler Lockett was Russell Wilson’s best friend against the Panthers. The Seahawks receiver caught five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, three of which came on third down including his touchdown in the third quarter. On the final drive of the game, Lockett caught a deep pass for 43 yards on 3rd down after Russell Wilson was able to buy some extra time in the pocket, ultimately setting up the Seawhawks game winning field goal.
"When Russell (Wilson) keeps it alive, we understand how hard it is for defenders to try to guard somebody more than five seconds," Lockett said. "If it is longer than four or five seconds, it puts us in a better position to get open."