Patriots win, Seahawks lose and New England couldn’t be happier. The matchup between the Panthers and the Seahawks was hyped up to be the best game of the divisional round. While it turned out to actually be a watchable game in the end, it did not start the way we all anticipated.
You could say this game was an accurate representation of the Seahawks season, starting out slow and coming out in the second half on fire. If this game was 5 quarters, the Panthers season may have been in jeopardy. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the game wasn’t 5 quarters, and they paid the price for not showing up in the first half.
With the help of a Luke Kuechly interception, the Panthers offense roared out to a 31-0 lead heading into halftime. Before the second half even started, Seahawks fans were pouring out of the stadium to avoid watching any more of this debacle. Predictably so, when the Seahawks started throwing touchdowns, they were piled up outside the stadium trying to gain re-entry.
Jonathan Stewart surprisingly broke the century mark with 106 yards and 2 touchdowns, against this tough Seattle run defense. Newton, throwing 16-22 for 161 yards, had a solid game, but the stats do not match up to the spectacular performances he has put up over the last few weeks.
Both teams in this divisional round matchup played the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde role when it came to the two halves. The Panthers put up 31 points against this tough Seattle defense, and made it look easy. With a 45-3 type game looming, the Panthers wouldn’t score again. They came out flat, almost as if they were in victory formation since the start of the second half. Although they did survive and move on, the Panthers need to figure out how to put 60 minutes together. They won’t be able to win a Super Bowl in one half.
Seattle could not have been more on the opposite side of the scale. They came out as if they just rolled out of bed 20 minutes before the game started. The first half was perfectly summed up when Steven Hauschka missed a field goal just before half time, keeping the goose egg on the board for the Seahawks.
Seattle would do their best to get themselves back in this game, even being down 31 points. Wilson hit Kearse and Lockett for two quick scores in the first 7:20 of the third quarter. This is when all the dedicated Seahawks fans were trying to get back into the stadium. Pete Carroll then called for a fake punt on their 23 yard line, which was successful and lead to another touchdown to Kearse. With the Panthers offense almost irrelevant, Hauschka then hit a field goal after a 60 yard drive, making it 31-24.
Only one comeback of at least 31 points has ever happened in the playoffs, and it looked like this would be the second. Unfortunately, for the Seahawks, they ended up one score short of completing the comeback. This is the lesson you learn when you don’t show up in the first half, and try to come back against a 31 point deficit.
With the Panthers moving on, they will now welcome the Cardinals to Charlotte in the NFC Championship Game. This matchup should be pretty interesting on both offense and defense with how balanced both teams are. When it comes down to it, I think the Cardinals have the edge in coaching and experience, and it will eventually lead them to a victory and a Super Bowl appearance, but don’t quote me on that.
By Matt Watts