Week 20 Game Recap: Carolina Panthers 14, Seattle Seahawks 34
What you need to know
Carolina entered the game having to play without another running back, this time RB DeShaun Foster, who broke his ankle last week. Enter RB Nick Goings, the third string running back for Carolina. Goings did have some history of past performance, as he started eight games and gained 100 or more yards in five of those games in 2004. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Goings was hit extremely hard by LB Lofa Tatupu and he had to leave in the first quarter. This virtually ended the run attack for the Panthers as they were out of viable running options and were also behind by ten points already when Goings left the game.
With the Panthers down to their fourth running back, last week’s favorite option of QB Jake Delhomme getting WR Steve Smith the ball as often as possible seemed to be the best strategy. Seattle expected this and devised an excellent coverage scheme that allowed Smith just eight yards on two catches before the fourth quarter. Smith was frustrated and convinced his coaches to let him run back a punt, which he ran back for a 59 yard touchdown despite a questionable flag that was overruled.
WR Drew Carter started opposite WR Steve Smith, and he contributed two long receptions and the only offensive touchdown for Carolina. QB Jake Delhomme targeted him on two deep passes in the game and Carter gained over 40 yards on each.
Seattle pressured Delhomme into three costly interceptions and hurried many of his throws. Their down field coverage of the wide receivers, especially WR Steve Smith, confounded Carolina and their offense suffered greatly. Not until the fourth quarter, long after the game had been decided, was Carolina able to move the ball.
RB Shaun Alexander returned to action after having been forced from the game last week with a concussion. The NFL MVP picked up where he left off, as he gained 132 yards rushing, 80 in the first half, and added a one yard touchdown run in both halves.
QB Matt Hasselbeck had a fantastic start, completing his first eight passes including a touchdown to TE Jerramy Stevens. Stevens led the team in receptions with six along with WR Darrell Jackson, who also caught a touchdown pass. WR Bobby Engram added three more catches as Hasselbeck connected with eight different Seattle receivers for over 200 total passing yards.
Backup QB Seneca Wallace entered the game in the first quarter and lined up in a wide receiver position. Seattle actually ran this trick play, throwing to Wallace for 28 yards, which set up the Seahawks in the red zone for the first time. Seattle scored a touchdown on the next play and never looked back.
The Seattle defense contributed greatly to the victory. They shut down Carolina’s favorite offensive weapon, WR Steve Smith, and applied consistent pressure QB Jake Delhomme. The pressure paid off as the Seahawks forced three interceptions from the hand of Delhomme.
Seattle is going to Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan on February 5th. This is the first Super Bowl appearance in the 30 year history of the Seahawks.
What you ought to know
|QB Jake Delhomme, Pass: 15 - 35 - 196 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0|
Delhomme got off to a terrible start, and it really did not get much better as the game wore on. Delhomme did not complete a pass until the second quarter as his first six passes missed their intended targets. Unfortunately for Carolina, some of those passes were caught – but not by teammates. The Seahawks intercepted two passes in the first quarter that helped them jump out to an early 17-0 lead which proved to be insurmountable.
Delhomme’s woes continued over the next two quarters as he completed only four passes in the second and third quarters, picking up 58 and 50 yards in each. Frustrated by the inability to get the ball to his favorite target, WR Steve Smith, Delhomme gained most of his team’s first half yardage by throwing a 41 yard pass to WR Drew Carter. The Seattle secondary covered most of the routes to the wide receivers, so Delhomme often had no choice but to dump the ball to a running back or take a sack. He was able to get the ball to the talented Steve Smith just twice in the first three quarters, but was intercepted three times by the swarming Seahawks defense.
Until late in the fourth quarter, Delhomme’s quarterback rating was barely above zero. He was able to launch a deep ball the WR Drew Carter once again in the fourth quarter for his only touchdown pass, and the Seattle defense afforded him a few more completions before the game was over.
Robertson became the #1 running back after RB Nick Goings was forced from the game in the first quarter after an apparent concussion. Robertson did little as a ball carrier, gaining just four yards on his first three carries before tacking on a meaningless 15 yard rush in the final two minutes of the game.
Robertson contributed more as a pass receiver, catching five balls for 38 yards and two first downs. Most of the catches came on dump off routes as QB Jake Delhomme had trouble all game finding open wide receivers downfield.
Goings was the starting running back for Carolina, replacing the injured RB DeShaun Foster who broke his ankle last week. Goings did not survive the first quarter, as he was hit extremely hard by LB Lofa Tatupu. Tatupu’s hit forced Goings to the sideline and to the locker room before halftime. Goings looked to have a concussion but details were not released as to the extent of his injury.
Hoover caught a swing pass out of the backfield in the second quarter for a nine yard gain. This was his only touch of the ball for the entire contest.
Smith was blanketed by the Seattle secondary for the meaningful part of the game as they obviously game planned to try and do everything possible to keep Smith from beating them. Smith had just two catches for eight total yards in the first half. He was so frustrated at how the offense was going that Smith asked to return a punt so he could make more of an impact. Well, Smith got his wish and he delivered. He returned his one punt return 59 yards for a touchdown.
Smith was only able to increase he reception totals past two in the fourth quarter, as the Seahawks let up their intensity of coverage with the game well in hand. Smith caught three balls for 25 yards in the fourth quarter, but also fumbled the ball away after his last catch. He was able to set a new postseason record for catches at 27, but that meant little considering the disappointment of the loss.
Carter was the deep threat for Carolina, as he was forced to try and deliver as the most viable wide receiver option for QB Jake Delhomme. Seattle was double and triple covering WR Steve Smith, so Carter had to try and elevate his game. Carter was only able to catch two passes on the afternoon, but they were both of appreciable length. Carter caught a 41 yard pass in the second quarter, and later added a leaping grab on a jump ball in the fourth quarter that he snared and then took immediately in to the end zone for a 47 yard touchdown.
Proehl caught just one pass despite getting six targets. His 19 yard catch came in the third quarter and was good enough for a Carolina first down. Proehl did not have a real chance to catch any of his other targets, as he was either very well covered or QB Jake Delhomme threw at him but assumed he was running a different pass route. Proehl was also the intended receiver on a pass that sailed well above his head and was intercepted by SS Michael Boulware in the third quarter.
Colbert was targeted three times, with two passes landing at his feet. The third was catchable, but unfortunately it was Seattle’s FS Marquand Manuel that made the reception. Manuel intercepted the pass to set up Seattle once again in Carolina’s end of the field.
Mangum caught a ten yard pass in the third quarter over the middle that was just good enough for a first down. Mangum had two other targets, the first of which hit him in the hands, but the ball was thrown too far behind him for Mangum to bring it in.
Kasay made both extra point attempts. He had no field goal opportunities.
RB Shaun Alexander led the way for Seattle, carrying the ball 34 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Seattle ran the ball 51 times, gaining 190 total yards, and controlled the time of possession by over 23 minutes. Seattle picked up 13 first downs on the ground and seemed to be able to run at will against Carolina.
QB Matt Hasselbeck was able to complete his first eight passes and throw for over 150 yards in the first half. Carolina was not able to mount a significant pass rush or force a turnover, and Seattle just picked them apart. Only the emphasis on the run game n the second half kept the Seahawks from passing for even more offense against the Panthers.
Hasselbeck started the game red hot, completing his first eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown to TE Jerramy Stevens. He favored his tight end early, hitting him five times in the first half for 49 total yards. Hasselbeck led the Seahawks to a 20-7 lead at halftime as he completed 14 of 19 attempts for 159 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes. He became more of a game manager in the second half, as he only threw nine times but did complete five including his second touchdown pass to WR Darrell Jackson.
While the stats say that Hasselbeck connected with eight receivers, he really favored only three. WR Bobby Engram had three catches on four targets, while fellow WR Darrell Jackson caught six of seven chances. TE Jerramy Stevens tied Jackson for catches, but managed to catch 100% of his targets. All the other Seahawks receivers caught just one pass.
Hasselbeck also contributed to the ground attack for the Seahawks, as he ran four times for 31 yards and a first down before kneeling twice to end the game. He was not afraid to tuck the ball down and run when his receivers were covered and get some yardage himself.
Wallace is the understudy to QB Matt Hasselbeck, but he was given one opportunity to step in to the limelight for one special play. Wallace came in and lined up as a wide receiver in the first quarter. QB Matt Hasselbeck pump faked towards him and then threw a deep pass towards Wallace, who ran a double move to the inside then to the sideline. He came down with the ball for a large 28 yard gain, which set up the first touchdown of the game on the next play.
Alexander was able to start in the backfield for Seattle after suffering a concussion last week that limited him to just six carries. Alexander made up for lost time as he touched the ball 35 times as the league MVP helped reestablish the Seattle running game. Alexander had over 100 yards before the end of the third quarter, including both a touchdown and six carries for ten or more yards.
Alexander was very consistent, carrying the ball eight or nine times in every quarter, picking up 36, 44 and 41 yards in the first three periods. Alexander’s production did go down in the final quarter to just 11 yards on eight carries, but he was able to punch in his second touchdown from the one yard line for his thirtieth touchdown this season.
Morris came in to give RB Shaun Alexander a few plays off, particularly late in the game with the Seahawks well out in front. Morris had a ten yard gain on his first carry of the fourth quarter, and he also lost an eight yard gain in the second quarter due to a penalty.
Morris was targeted once in the game on a short pass of about five yards in the third quarter, but he dropped the ball. He had plenty of room to run after the catch, which may have contributed to his trying to run before he secured the ball.
|RB Mack Strong, Rush: 4 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets)|
Strong had four carries in the second half, the first two coming on third and short. Strong picked up the first down on the first play but was tackled for a loss on the second. His other two carries came inside the Carolina ten yard line. Strong picked up a first down and then moved the ball to the one yard line, setting up RB Shaun Alexander’s second touchdown.
Strong was targeted twice on routes out of the backfield in the second quarter. He caught one short pass of three yards, and he was wide open in the end zone on his other target but QB Matt Hasselbeck threw wide. Unfortunately for Strong, that was one of the few instances where Hasselbeck did not throw a good pass in the game, and he lost his scoring chance.
Jackson was the most targeted receiver for Seattle for the second week in a row. Jackson caught four passes before halftime, picking up 49 yards. He added two more catches in the second half including a 20 yard touchdown catch. Jackson ran a nice stop and go route to inside the five yard line then made the last defender miss to walk in to the end zone. The only target Jackson failed to grab came from a hurried QB Matt Hasselbeck as he tried to thread the needle on the sideline and the pass was well defended before it ever could get to Jackson.
Jackson was seen late in the game on the sideline with a trainer working on his back. No further mention was made of it but keep an eye on it.
Engram caught three out of four targets for the Seahawks. Engram ran mostly short routes, including the first pass reception of the game that he caught and ran for 12 yards and a first down. Engram added another 13 yard catch before halftime, and then later added a nine yard catch in the third quarter on his last target. The only incomplete target was on his longest pass route of the game. Engram ran straight toward the end zone from the Carolina 36 and was in position to make the catch inside the five yard line, but two Panthers defenders converged on the ball and batted it away.
Jurevicius caught one short pass in the second quarter for just six yards. He was the intended recipient of a third quarter pass but a hurried throw fell at his feet. Jurevicius later was running a longer pattern on a fourth down late in the game, but the ball was tipped just beyond the line of scrimmage and never got close enough for him to make any kind of attempt at a catch.
Stevens was the most active pass catcher in the first half, as QB Matt Hasselbeck targeted him five times in the first two quarters. Stevens did not disappoint as he caught all five, including a 17 yard touchdown for the opening score of the game in the first quarter. Stevens ran a skinny post to an unprotected area in the middle of the field and caught the pass in stride to walk in for a score.
Most of Stevens’ catches were in the middle of the field and for between ten and 20 yards. His final catch of the game came in the fourth quarter as he picked up another 12 yards and his fourth first down. He was seen on the Seattle sideline shortly after that catch shaking his arms and hands so we’ll watch that as we head in to the Super Bowl.
Hannam caught one pass for seven yards in the fourth quarter. It was his only target.
Brown was successful on his two shorter field goal attempts. He made a 24 yard kick in the first quarter and added a 39 yard score before halftime. He later tried a 49 yard kick late in the second quarter but the kick was just short and a little wide to the right. He also lined up to attempt a 53 yard kick in the third quarter but instead pooched a punt to inside the Panthers’ ten yard line. Brown also made all four of his extra point attempts.
With Carolina already down to their third running back in Nick Goings coming in to the game, the run game was not much of a threat from Carolina. Once Goings was forced from the game with an apparent concussion and with Seattle leading by two scores, the running game nearly vanished for the Panthers. Carolina had just 21 yards rushing on 11 carries entering the fourth quarter, and they only ran the ball once for a meaningless 15 yard gain in the final period.
The Seahawks kept the biggest Carolina threat, WR Steve Smith, completely covered and very frustrated for nearly every play of the game. Smith was targeted six times but managed just two catches and eight yards before the fourth quarter. The Seahawks pressured QB Jake Delhomme, forcing bad throws and collecting three interceptions. They also added numerous hurries and two sacks. They seemed intent on not allowing Smith to beat them and devoted the manpower to stop him. With other Carolina options seeing less coverage, the Panthers were unable to capitalize on it.