Black and Blue Review

Black and Blue Review

Carolina Panthers News and Coverage for the Digital Age

Panthers Have Second Chance at Struggling Seahawks

The Seahawks are reeling. They're just not the same team. Their reign as one of the NFC's best could be over.

Sound familiar? It should.

Ding, dong the Seahawks are dead isn't just a thing this week. The same was being said last October.

When Seattle traveled to Charlotte in Week 8, the defending Super Bowl champs were 3-3 and in turmoil. Then they beat the Panthers. From there, the Seahawks rattled off eight more wins in their final nine games before they wound up in another Super Bowl.

So even though the back-to-back NFC champs have suddenly morphed into fourth-quarter chumps – see: blowing a 17-point lead to the Bengals last Sunday – the king isn't dead just yet.

"All we do is go off the tape, and when we look at the tape, it looks like the same defense to me," Panthers receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "Those guys are still flying around; I won't judge them off one quarter."

Which is fair. Calling for a judge and jury five games into a season is a bit premature. But it's also fair to wonder what's happening with the Seahawks, specifically in the fourth quarter, especially on defense.

All three of Seattle's losses have come when they've led in the fourth, and that total would be four if not for a tremendous play by safety Kam Chancellor combined with a blown call in Week 4. Through five games, the Seahawks are allowing an average of 8.4 points in the fourth quarter, exactly two times more than their 2014 average.

Yet, according to Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula:

"In my opinion, they’re as good or better."

While it's tough to argue the Seahawks are currently better, it's not surprising the Panthers aren't in a hurry to dance on a grave that hasn't yet been dug.

Carolina's last win in the series came when quarterback Matt Moore made his first career start on Dec. 16, 2007. Since then, the Seahawks have gone on a 5-0 run, including four wins since 2012.

In their past three regular-season meetings, the combined margin of victory is 13 points. Each time, the Panthers had a chance, and each time, the Seahawks made a play. They didn't go away then, and just like last October, they're capable of using a win over the Panthers as a springboard to another postseason run.

Russell Wilson, Star Lotulelei on field | Seahawks vs. Panthers Week 8 2014 | credit Ben Coon

"Individually, we've always kind of been underdogs. We've got a lot of free agents playing, a lot of guys drafted late," Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said on a conference call with Carolina media. "So our team is kind of used to having our backs against the wall and we have to use that adversity for opportunity."

But this is also an opportunity for the Panthers. Even if the Seahawks are actually as good or better than their past couple teams, there's no question they're vulnerable. A loss Sunday could be a knockout punch, if the Panthers can finally find a way to land it.

"You don't run in your mind, 'Oh, these guys are reeling.' If anything, that's more motivation for them to get together. That's a good squad. I think you set yourself up to fail if you go in expecting them to repeat [their struggles]," Panthers defensive end Jared Allen said.

"They find ways to win, so it is still a very tough team. They've got a lot going for them and I expect their best punch."

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