An stirring but improbable comeback attempt by the Seahawks simply ran out of time Sunday as the Carolina Panthers held on to win 31-24, ending Seattle's season in the divisional round.
Jonathan Stewart took the game's opening handoff 59 yards right up the middle and could have cart-wheeled into the end zone just three plays later to give Carolina a quick lead.
Russell Wilson threw two interceptions in the first half, the first returned for a touchdown by Carolina's All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to give the Panthers a startlingly easy 14-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game.
Cam Newton, on the other hand, was surgical finding Greg Olsen on a beautifully placed touchdown over tight coverage to extend Carolina's stunning 31-0 halftime lead. Olsen ultimately led the Panthers with 77 yards on six receptions and the score. Newton was an efficient 16 of 21 for 161 yards and the one score. His Panthers did not turn over the ball in this game.
Carolina scored on its first four possessions, with Newton finding wide open receivers as Seattle's defense creeped toward the line of scrimmage anticipating more runs from Stewart and Newton.
Trailing so quickly, the Seahawks were never able to get Marshawn Lynch going. At the half, he had just 12 rushing yards on five attempts and he logged just one carry over the final 30 minutes of regulation, finishing with just 20 rushing yards overall.
A big return from Tyler Lockett gave Seattle a spark to start the second half and Wilson found he and Jermaine Kearse for beatifully-thrown passes to close things in the second half. Kease led all participants with 11 receptions for 110 yards and two scores.
Despite facing constant pressure and getting sacked five times, Wilson caught fire down the stretch, ultimately throwing for 366 yards and three scores to along with the two first-half interceptions.
The loss is a particularly tough one for the Seahawks. Not only does it obviously end Seattle's 2015 season, the Seahawks face key questions in the off-season with mainstays like Lynch, left tackle Russell Okung, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin among the many players who may never again wear a Seattle uniform.null