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Was Bank of America Stadium’s Turf Too Soft? ‘Both Teams Played on It’

After some of the Seahawks made a stink about field conditions before Sunday's divisional round game at Bank of America Stadium, their concerns were confirmed on the Panthers' first play from scrimmage.

When running back Jonathan Stewart busted through an opening on the line, converging safety Earl Thomas put on the brakes to make a cut toward Stewart. On replay, it appears Thomas may have had a chance to at least trip up Stewart. Instead, Thomas slipped, Stewart ran 59 yards and the first-half rout was on.

"Earl slipped and fell on the lousy turf," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told a Seattle radio station Monday afternoon. "That’s how it happened. Normally that’d be a six- or seven-yard play."

But as he did postgame, Panthers coach Ron Rivera on Monday echoed his solid argument: "Both teams played on it."

Photo: Ben Coon
Photo: Ben Coon

Rivera continued, "I don't think there was an advantage one way or the other. Once guys got the right cleats on, they understood what the cleats needed to be."

Which is exactly what Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson did.

"I noticed it was a little slippery earlier in the pre-game. That’s why I go out there so early and just kind of run around and stuff," he said. "I changed my cleats. I put the long detached in just to make sure that I was ready to go, so it wasn’t a problem for me."

When Carroll was asked afterward about the condition of the field, he wasn't as descriptive as he was Monday. But he did commiserate about the soft turf that didn't allow for a higher bounce on Seattle's last-ditch onside kick attempt.

In the past three weeks, Bank of America Stadium has hosted a rain-soaked Belk Bowl and two Panthers' games. The field was resodded in-between the regular-season finale and Sunday's playoff, but that's what the grounds crew has traditionally done ahead of postseason games.

Yes, the turf was softer than some would have liked and players from both teams slipped at times. But as a former Carolina coach used to say, "It is what it is."

"That's to be expected at this time of year," Rivera said. "It's not different than back in the day when I was in Chicago or San Diego for that matter. This is the 19th week of the season, so it's gonna happen.

"Some guys said it was slippery in certain areas, but again, this time of year, the field was in pretty good shape."

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