Then came intermission, where the Panthers apparently forgot everything that made them successful in the first half.
Save for Captain Munnerlyn's second interception in the last two weeks, the third quarter was all Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch scored two of his three touchdowns; Leon Washington ripped off an 84-yard punt return; and Lofa Tatupu authored a back-breaking pick-six.
QB Jimmy Clausen
Otto Greule Jr./Getty
The self-destructive second half undercut some shining moments for the Panthers. Carolina took the opening kickoff and responded with a 10-play drive capped off by a 6-yard TD run by Mike Goodson.
While Goodson was the first to score, Stewart did most of the damage. He piled up 73 of his 92 rushing yards in the first half, including a 3-yard touchdown to make it a 14-0 game early.
Steve Smith even got in on the early success, hauling in a beautiful 39-yard reception down the right sideline. Unfortunately, he was shut out in the second half and was held to three receptions or less for the seventh time this season.
Carolina's defense showed some fight. Munnerlyn had his second interception in as many weeks and Charles Godfrey grabbed his team-leading fifth pick.
Speaking of team-leading defenders, Charles Johnson netted another sack and needs just 2.5 more over the final four games to hit double digits. James Anderson and Jon Beason also combined for a pair of sacks.
The defenders would have been able to enjoy that performance a lot more had they not allowed the Seahawks to post 371 total net yards and 161 total rushing yards.
But it's been that kind of season for the Panthers, where the only thing clicking is the clock -- in four weeks, they'll officially be on it.
--Tyrell Sutton was a part of the backfield mix for just the second time this season, carrying four times for 17 yards and catching three passes for 14 yards.
--Rookie receivers Brandon LaFell and David Gettis were held in check, finishing with 33 and 16 yards, respectively. No Panther player had more than three catches.
--Munnerlyn, starting for the inactive Chris Gamble, led the team with seven tackles.
--P Jason Baker made the high-effort play of the game when he chased down Washington on his long punt return, stopping him a yard short of the end zone.
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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.