Panthers find positives but get "Russelled" again
Posted September 8, 2013
Cam Newton was quick to hand out advice at his press conference. “Let’s not panic,” he said. “It’s just the first game.” He’s right but this does mark the fifth straight year the Panthers have lost their season opener. Their last first game win was 2008 in San Diego and that year was the last time they had a winning record when the season was over.
There were some positives to point out in the 12-7 loss to Seattle.
You saw a regular season playbook instead of the vanilla version used in the preseason. There were some quarterback draws called and designed Cam Newton keepers. The Panthers used more creative formations than in the preseason and more misdirection plays. The numbers for Newton were 38 yards rushing and 16 of 23 for 125 yards passing. His passing total could have been fatter but for a drop by tight end Greg Olsen. It was a very well designed play where the slot and wide receiver on the right side ran go routes and Olsen slipped in underneath. There wasn’t a man within 15 yards of him.
DeAngelo Williams outrushed the Seahawks Marshawn Lynch 76 to 43. But the lasting image of Williams is the fumble at the Seattle 8 with 5:34 on the clock and the Panthers down 5. DeAngelo took the blame for the loss but his quarterback quickly defended the 8 year pro.
“You can’t blame this loss on one play,” Newton said. “There were a lot of missed opportunities.”
Cam’s counterpart, Russell Wilson was pressured by the Panthers front four. Star Lotulelei nearly got his first NFL safety. Sack man Charles Johnson did capture the former NC State quarterback for a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery all on one play in the red zone.
But even when the Panthers were able to get to Wilson, he sometimes was able to complete a pass. In the third quarter, Greg Hardy and Dwan Edwards met up with Wilson at the same time. “I got blasted,” Wilson said afterwards. But he was able to get the ball off a nanosecond before contact and complete what Coach Pete Carroll called a “ridiculous” third down throw to Doug Baldwin.
The former NC State and Wisconsin quarterback has always had great touch passing the football but now he’s able to fit passes into incredibly smaller windows than when he was in college. Against the Panthers, Wilson was 25 of 33 for 320 yards. His lone touchdown pass was placed where only Jermaine Kearse could catch it. It was Seattle’s only touchdown of the day but enough for a winning 12-7 margin.
As Wilson jogged off the field, quite a few red-shirted, NC State fans were there at the tunnel to give one more cheer to their former quarterback. He had some amazing days during his collegiate days with the Wolfpack.
And now, Russell Wilson is 2-0 as an NFL quarterback in the state he once called home.