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Wilson, Seahawks ease Panthers as Newton struggles

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson erased a bad play from his memory and helped direct his team to a victory.

It might buy him more time as the starter after recent criticism of the team's stale offense.

"I use it as fire," Wilson said after the Seahawks defeated the Carolina Panthers 16-12 Sunday. "I ignore the noise, but at the same time, I know I have to get better."

So Wilson was undeterred after an interception was returned for a touchdown, and the former North Carolina State quarterback guided the Seahawks to enough points to make it a happy homecoming.

"I think the main thing is just having amnesia," Wilson said at Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers couldn't overcome quarterback Cam Newton's struggles.

It took one touchdown for the Seahawks (3-2) to win for the first time in three road outings.

Wilson threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Golden Tate, who pinballed off Carolina defenders for the final 4 yards to reach the end zone with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.

"Once I got the ball in my hands, I was just trying to find a way to get in," Tate said. "One of the linebackers tried to throw himself and make a big hit, and I ended up bouncing off that."

Seattle had gone 100 minutes between touchdowns since the first quarter against the St. Louis Rams in its previous game. It was only the Seahawks' second touchdown since their controversial end-of-game score against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 24.

Steven Hauschka made three field goals for the Seahawks, the final one pushing their lead to 16-10 with 10:27 remaining.

The Panthers (1-4) had 105 yards of offense through three quarters, with Newton hitting on only five of his first 20 passes.

He completed his first seven throws of the fourth quarter until throwing incomplete under heavy pressure on fourth-and-goal from the Seattle 1 with 3:47 remaining.

"We actually thought Cam was going to run it, so I think everybody was ready for Cam to run it, so as soon as he rolled out, I dropped back and didn't see anybody, so I chased after Cam," Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said.

Despite the Seahawks picking up a first down, they took a safety rather than punting from near their end zone. That gave the Panthers one more possession, beginning at their own 31-yard line with 54 seconds left and no timeouts remaining.

Seattle defensive end Bruce Irvin forced Newton to fumble on a sack on the second play, and Alan Branch recovered for the Seahawks to seal the win.

Newton's misery ended with a 12-for-29 outing for 141 yards.

"I pride myself on being able to do things when my number is called, and I didn't get the job done," Newton said.

Wilson was 19 of 25 for 221 yards. Even though he threw the game's only two interceptions, he clearly outperformed Newton.

Wilson's first pass of the second half was intercepted by Captain Munnerlyn and returned 33 yards for a touchdown, giving the Panthers their first lead of the game at 10-6. Munnerlyn was in the starting lineup as part of a revamped secondary because of cornerback Chris Gamble's shoulder injury.

The Seahawks turned the ball over again when Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted a pass batted in the air by Marshawn Lynch. The Panthers had to punt on the ensuing drive.

Seattle got a break late in the third quarter when Newton's pitch to DeAngelo Williams was disrupted by Brandon Browner, who recovered the fumble at the Carolina 27. The Seahawks converted to retake the lead on their only touchdown.

"I saw it the whole way," Browner said. "We had a great scheme. We played our scheme to a 'T.'"

The 190 yards of total offense didn't cut it for the Panthers.

"Our defense did their job, but every time we got the ball, we were backed up," tight end Greg Olsen said. "Just too many three-and-outs. It was just overall pretty bad."

Seattle's Leon Washington fumbled the second-half kickoff, with Carolina's Jason Phillips causing the turnover and Josh Thomas recovering the ball. Carolina started with possession at the Seattle 37-yard line, but the drive resulted in negative yardage, with a third-down sack prompting a punt.

Wilson completed 12 of 13 first-half passes. Newton was 3-for-15 in the air by halftime, yet Justin Medlock's 32-yard field goal on the second-to-last play of the first half closed the Panthers' deficit to 6-3.

Newton's 37 rushing yards led all players at the half. He wound up with 42 yards on seven carries.

Lynch rushed for a game-high 85 yards, including a key 11-yard, third-down run for a first down when the Seahawks were pinned inside their 5-yard line after the fourth-quarter goal-line stand.

"We could have done a better job of putting the offense in better field position," Kuechly said. "We could have gotten off the field quicker on some of those drives."

NOTES: Panthers middle linebacker Jon Beason was on the inactive list with a knee injury. Kuechly, a first-round draft pick in April out of Boston College, started in his place, with Thomas Davis moving to Kuechly's spot as a weakside linebacker ... Gamble and Carolina offensive guard Geoff Hangartner (knee) also missed the game. ... Hauschka also played at N.C. State. He opened the scoring Sunday with a 22-yard field goal and added the next points on a 36-yarder. ... Wide receiver Steve Smith extended his Panthers-record streak to 80 consecutive games with at least one catch.

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