CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks need their tough defense to make things easier on rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The plan worked perfectly against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Wilson threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Golden Tate late in the third quarter, while the defense frustrated Newton and the Panthers throughout Sunday's 16-12 road win.
Wilson threw for a season-high 221 yards and shook off two third-quarter interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Of course, it helped that the defense kept the Panthers (1-4) out of the end zone and harassed Newton into a career-low 141 yards passing.
"The defense hasn't had any problems this year," Seattle receiver Sidney Rice said. "They played well enough for us to win all year, all five games. On the offensive end, we need to pick it up just a little bit."
Carolina had two chances to take the lead in the final minutes Sunday only to come away empty each time.
After driving the Panthers to the 1 for a fourth-down play, Newton rolled to his right and spotted Ben Hartsock open in the end zone, but he threw a one-hopper on the short pass.
Then, after the Seahawks (3-2) took an intentional safety, Carolina got the ball back at its own 31 with 54 seconds left and no timeouts. That's when Bruce Irvin, a rookie, stripped Newton from behind for his second sack. Defensive tackle Alan Branch fell on the loose ball to seal the win.
"It wasn't easy; it might have looked like it was, but it wasn't easy because of all the stuff they do," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "And they tried all their options and stuff, and we were able to stay in sync with it, so it's a fantastic job defensively.
"Nothing can express it more than standing up on the goal line down there and finishing. That was awesome. It's what defensive players and coaches live for — those challenges and opportunities — and the guys came through in a big way."
Newton finished just 12 for 29 and was sacked four times. He also ran for 42 yards, but Carolina finished with just 190 total yards.
"When you know what guys are doing and you still can't beat them, they're just good at what they do," said Newton, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick.
"Let's call a cat a cat and a dog a dog. They're a great defense. We knew what we they were going to do before the game even started."