Seahawks begin defining 2-game stretch hosting Panthers

Pete Carroll was really upset when the NFL added a 17th game to the schedule last season.

SEATTLE (AP) — Pete Carroll was really upset when the NFL added a 17th game to the schedule last season.

“In my opinion I will be in the fourth quarter next week. We’re not there yet,” said the veteran Seattle head coach.

But the Seahawks are clearly in the important quarter of the season with a potentially crucial two-game stretch beginning Sunday when Seattle host Carolina.

This is followed by a quick turnaround and a divisional showdown with San Francisco next Thursday. It’s a five-day span that will likely determine whether Seattle (7-5) has a shot at winning the NFC West or whether it will be battling for one of the final playoff spots in the NFC.

Before worrying about their divisional enemy, the Seahawks can’t overlook the Panthers.

“This game is huge for us right now so we have to go get it and do whatever it takes to make that happen,” Carroll said.

Two weeks ago, the Panthers did Seattle a favor by defeating Denver that only improved the Seahawks’ draft position as owners of the Broncos’ first-round pick in 2023 thanks to the Russell Wilson trade.

The Panthers (4-8) should come out of their bye week healthy and well rested. It will be Sam Darnold’s second straight start as quarterback, but it’s the Panthers’ running game that has picked up momentum in their last two wins. Carolina rushed for 232 yards in beating Atlanta and had 185 yards in beating Denver. That’s where Seattle has struggled lately, conceding at least 160 yards in each of its last three games.

And while the Panthers have the fourth-worst record in the NFC, they’re just two games away from first place in the NFC South. But a win in Seattle means Carolina will solve their road woes and go 5-0 from home so far this season.

“It’s going to be a difficult task in Seattle,” said Carolina interim coach Steve Wilks. “The 12th man, loud crowd and definitely a different vibe.”

BACKFIELD CARE

Seattle has a significant depth issue in its offensive backfield. Running backs Kenneth Walker III and DeeJay Dallas both injured their ankles against the Rams last week. Travis Homer could return after missing last week, but the only perfectly sane option might be Tony Jones Jr., who had seven carries against the Rams.

It’s a cloudy situation for Seattle, made even more difficult with the quick transition to next week.

SACK ATTACK

Panthers defensive end Brian Burns said he has a new goal – to eclipse the team’s sack record in a single season.

Burns has five sacks in his last four games, giving him a career-high 10 for the season. The team record is shared by Hall of Famer Kevin Greene and Greg Hardy, who each had 15.

“My goal is to beat the record,” Burns said. “I need 5½ or six sacks and that would be great.”

Burns said he didn’t know about the team record until someone told him about it this week.

RECORD WATCH

Geno Smith’s season for Seattle has garnered a significant amount of worthy recognition. He can put himself in the NFL record books with another solid performance against the Panthers. Smith has at least a 60% completion rate and a passer rating of 80 or higher in his first 12 games this season. Along with Peyton Manning (2009) and Aaron Rodgers (2011), it is the longest series to start a season.

Smith can take the top spot with another solid game this week. Smith has a passer rating of 100 or higher in eight of his last nine games and his lowest completion rate is 64%.

“Phenomenal. MVP caliber. Take second, MVP caliber,” said Seattle WR DK Metcalf.

Darnold’s beard

Darnold sports a red beard, which he grew before leading the Panthers to a 23-10 win over the Denver Broncos in his first start of the season ahead of bye week.

“I’ll obviously keep it as long as we win games,” Darnold said.

Wilks named Darnold as a starter immediately after the win in Denver, and the team dropped Baker Mayfield Monday. PJ Walker will serve as the team’s No. 2 quarterback Sunday.

“Baker was just the best for me and all the guys in the dressing room and on the coaching staff, absolutely class,” said Darnold. “He was such a great teammate in the dressing room. It’s a tough business.”

HELLO AGAIN

For a while, Seattle and Carolina went together like division foes. The teams faced each other in the regular season every year between 2012–16 and again in 2018–19. This stretch also included playoff meetings in the 2014 and 2015 playoffs.

The Seahawks have won the last three regular season games of the series, including a 40-7 game in 2016 when the teams last met in Seattle.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/nfl/seahawks/seahawks-begin-defining-2-game-stretch-hosting-panthers/281-7c882ddc-1a40-4ca3-a21f-c98340c9f1af Seahawks begin defining 2-game stretch hosting Panthers

Emma Bowman

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