Panthers stall in red zone, lose 13-9 to Seahawks
The Panthers managed just six points in three trips inside the Seattle 20 and lost 13-9, their third defeat to the Seahawks here in three years.
''When you get inside the five, you got to scratch, claw, spit, grit, find a way,'' Newton said. ''It's the offense, executing, gritting your teeth and saying, `We got two yards to go. We got one yard to go and you know, hell or high water we got to get it.'''
A dropped pass in the end zone by rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and a turnover off a fumbled exchange between Newton and Jonathan Stewart on a read option play were costly. The Panthers settled for Graham Gano's two field goals.
The missed opportunities eventually caught up to the Panthers when Russell Wilson connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Luke Wilson with 47 seconds left for the go-ahead score, helping the Seahawks snap a two-game losing streak.
Carolina came into the game ranked 23rd in the league in red zone offense, converting 52 percent of its trips into touchdowns.
The Panthers only led 6-3 at halftime despite reaching inside the Seattle 13, 1 and 8 on their first three possessions.
Newton also threw a second half interception when he flipped the ball forward while trying to avoid a sack. That took his team out of field goal range at the Seattle 34.
''It's tough when you don't score touchdowns and miss opportunities,'' coach Ron Rivera said. ''You have to make hay down in the red zone.''
Newton ran 12 times for 24 yards and was sacked three times. He was limited to 12 of 22 passing for 171 yards with one interception.
In three games against the Seahawks, Newton has only thrown for 437 yards and one touchdown while being sacked eight times. It ended when Newton bounced a pass in front of running back Jonathan Stewart on fourth-and-25.
The fourth-year quarterback said fatigue might have played a role in the loss.
''It's just running numerous, numerous times,'' Newton said.
It's the third straight year Wilson has brought the Seahawks (4-3) back from a second-half deficit to beat the Panthers here. In the previous two seasons, Wilson threw second-half TD passes to Jermaine Kearse and Golden Tate in tight defensive games.
Carolina's defense, which had allowed at least 37 points in four of its previous five games, held the defending Super Bowl champions in check before Wilson led a nine-play, 80-yard drive for the only touchdown.
''Man, I'm telling you, it's just the Achilles' heel, man,'' Panthers cornerback Josh Norman said. ''They keep nagging us. They end up making one more play than us, every single time.''
Wilson finished 20 of 32 for 199 yards with one interception and the one touchdown to Luke Wilson on a seam route.
Carolina had a chance after the touchdown, but Seattle's pass rush turned up the heat and the Panthers couldn't manage a first down.
The Seahawks had their share of botched opportunities, too.
With a chance to take the lead just before halftime, Lynch let Wilson's pass slip through his hands at the goal line and cornerback Josh Norman came up with an interception. In the third quarter, Wilson got the Panthers to bite on a fake handoff and had tight end Cooper Helfet wide open down the left sideline but underthrew him. The Seahawks settled for a 29-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka to tie the game at 6.
Seattle's only points in the first half came when Hauschka drilled a low, lining 58-yard field goal which would have been good from at least another 10 yards.
NOTES: Benjamin was benched to start the game because Rivera said he was ''sending him a message. He's accountable just like everybody else.'' Rivera wouldn't elaborate. The rookie had four catches for 94 yards ... Panthers safety Thomas DeCoud left in the second half with a hamstring injury.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL