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Week 15 Game Recap: Seattle Seahawks 30, Carolina Panthers 24


What you need to know

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks offense was strong both in the air and on the ground, but the key to this offense is getting their ground game going. Rashaad Penny’s absence was felt, as Chris Carson took on most of the rushing workload, and he rose to the occasion, bookending a solid performance with memorable opening and closing drives – first was a score, second ran down the clock to preserve the lead. Russell Wilson got back on track after a few somewhat ‘down’ weeks (at least as MVP caliber seasons go). Most impressive was his renewed rapport with Tyler Lockett, who went 8-9-120-1. DK Metcalf and Josh Gordon had their moments as well, but were not high volume targets. TE Jacob Hollister fell back into a checkdown/outlet receiver role, when he wasn’t blocking.

Carolina Panthers

Mistake-prone Kyle Allen threw three interceptions to dig a hole for the Panthers that they could not get out of. Two of the picks were poor errors by Allen, with the third slightly unfortunate due to a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage. Allen is repeating the same mistakes week after week. Even with good pass protection in this game, he was unable to have a clean game. Christian McCaffrey carried the offense on his back, catching check-downs and juking defenders, running hard between the tackles and cashing in with a couple of red zone touchdown runs. D.J. Moore continued to dominate the targets, with Allen favouring him especially in the hurry-up at the end of the game. Curtis Samuel was utilised as a jet sweep option, a pre-snap motion that has become a staple of the Carolina offense since Scott Turner took the reins as offensive coordinator last week. Samuel looked spry and quick on these touches, getting to the edge before the Seahawks defense could react. Ian Thomas was a non-factor, with Allen preferring to target McCaffrey, Moore and Samuel.

Seattle Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 26 - 286 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -1 - 0
Wilson tossed a couple of short passes on the opening touchdown drive, as Chris Carson did most of the work on the ground. But on the second possession, with the Panthers going after the running game, Wilson aired it out. First to Tyler Lockett for 44 yards, with a now familiar sight: a perfect deep throw, inches away from the defense and right into the hands of the suddenly appearing wideout. After connecting with Lockett on 8-of-9 targets, it’s safe to say, they’ve rediscovered their chemistry together. Wilson also found DK Metcalf for the score on a 19-yard loft down the sideline, that was caught with a well-timed leap. Wilson also found Josh Gordon for a big gain down the middle. He has clearly developed a healthy rapport with each of those three, as well as TE Jacob Hollister, and with the occasional short pass to his running backs, Wilson got back on track after a few weeks of consecutive interceptions.

RB Chris Carson, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 133 - 2, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (2 targets)
On the opening drive, Carson rumbled 47 yards over four plays, including the for the score. Early in the drive, he ran for 23 yards off tackle, zig-zagging up the middle for the big gain. On the scoring play, Carson ran right, made a diving tackler miss, and powered his way from the 5-yard line to the end zone with a defender fully hanging on. With the season ending injury to Rashaad Penny, Carson was THE back for the Seahawks. Carson’s 4th quarter score came from sheer power and determination, as he took a 4th and 1, from the 6, across the goal line. Running to the outside on several plays, Carson also did well, moving the chains on several occasions, including the final drive, in which he ran for 10+ yards, three times, to help seal the victory.

WR Tyler Lockett, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 120 - 1 (9 targets)
After a rough few weeks statistically, in part due to a shin injury and a flu that had him playing down ten pounds this week, Lockett bounced back in a big way. He started small, catching a screen pass for ten yards, and even on that play it was evident that he had his old legs back. On the next drive, he caught (yet another) near miracle pass. He tracked the ball amazingly well on a flag route, running under to catch it just ahead of the defender, for a 44-yard gain. Lockett’s touchdown came in the second quarter, as he again found a pocket in the Panthers zone defense and easily brought in the 19-yard pass near the goal line. His only missed target was an overthrow near the goal line. In the final quarter, he caught a short red zone pass as Wilson scrambled, then made a nice inside spin move to elude the defender and get near the first down marker.

WR DK Metcalf, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 36 - 1 (4 targets)
Metcalf only caught two balls, but he made them count. On a sideline route, a well-timed leap in the end zone – on a perfectly thrown pass – gave the Seahawks the lead on the opening drive. His other reception was over the middle, a nice catch in coverage, but he was taken down quickly.

WR Josh Gordon, 25 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rec: 1 - 58 - 0 (1 targets)
Gordon only had the one catch, but it was a beauty. At full speed, he made a diving catch and with the long pass barely on his fingertips, managed to bring it in and then as he landed hard with the ball between him and the ground, secured his hand over it to maintain possession. Gordon has seen low volume since joining the Seahawks, but each week seems to come up with a clutch catch or two, and has also shown a decent rapport with Russell Wilson. Gordon also attempted a pass on a trick play, and while it wasn’t a terrible throw, it was intercepted.

TE Jacob Hollister, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (3 targets)
Hollister was a reliable target for Wilson, but was never more than an outlet option in this one. As a result, he picked up short gains on each of his three catches.


Carolina Panthers

QB Kyle Allen, 72 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 41 - 277 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 25 - 0
It was yet another mistake-ridden game from Kyle Allen, with poor decisions in key situations proving costly. At times, Allen displays maturity and lives to fight another down, throwing the ball away; on other occasions he makes the inexplicable pass that puts his team in a bad situation. Inaccuracy plagued him in the early stages, with passes to Jarius Wright and Ian Thomas on crossing patterns left behind the target – and not out in front to run on to. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s play calling helped Allen tremendously, with jet sweep motions from the receivers and quick passes allowing him to settle into a rhythm. However, the mistakes began to creep in, with the first interception coming on a late pass down the middle. The receiver settled down in zone coverage, but Allen was late to release the ball and a lurking linebacker undercut it easily. The second interception was not completely Allen’s fault, with a tipped pass at the line falling kindly into the arms of a Seattle defender. The third pick, however, was an egregious error on Allen’s part – and a mistake he has made in prior games. As he booted right off play action, the edge defender closed on him quickly, but instead of throwing the ball into row Z he chucked it into the flat – and it was picked off. Allen rallied late in the four-minute drill, leading a touchdown drive that culminated in a nice touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel, flipping it to the receiver as he baited the defenders into thinking he would run to the goal line.

RB Christian McCaffrey, 72 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 19 - 87 - 2, Rec: 8 - 88 - 0 (10 targets)
Christian McCaffrey continued to put the Carolina offense on his back, with quarterback Kyle Allen struggling for consistency. The do-it-all back was stymied on some early carries, but eventually he found his feet and burst through some openings. A cutback run off left tackle was a highlight, with McCaffrey instantly recognising the opening and hitting it up the field quickly. McCaffrey scored two rushing touchdowns in the red zone, cashing in this week after a few barren ones. The first score was a shotgun carry up the middle, but the jet sweep motion at the snap kept the linebackers honest and prevented a hard, downhill charge towards McCaffrey. The offensive line blew open a huge hole and he capitalised. McCaffrey continued to be a huge factor in the passing game, with Allen’s default read at times being the superstar back on a check down. After the catch, McCaffrey bamboozled defenders with juke moves in space and even hurdled a defender on a swing pass. His second rushing touchdown came with the game out of reach on the scoreline, 30-10, but he charged downhill on the shotgun carry and weaved between defenders beautifully. It appeared the Seahawks were set up to stop the pass on the play, so McCaffrey and the offensive line took full advantage.

WR Curtis Samuel, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 23 - 0, Rec: 5 - 31 - 1 (8 targets)
Like last week, the emphasis of offensive coordinator Scott Turner was to get the ball into Curtis Samuel’s hands as a runner, as well as a receiver. That intention became clear as Samuel caught a screen pass out of the backfield early on, weaving his way for a first down. On several plays Samuel was used as a jet sweep option, much like the Rams deploy their receivers pre-snap, and he carried the ball effectively. The Seahawks defense struggled to contain Samuel, whose speed to the edge was too much to handle. One such play saw Samuel fall two yards shy of the goal line. As a receiver, Samuel was able to make hay in the short passing game; Carolina stuck with three-step concepts as the game got away from them. An end zone target thrown high into the back-left corner was out of Samuel’s reach, but on the next play he connected with Kyle Allen for a touchdown. Samuel, seeing Allen roll right, adjusted his route as the defender in coverage left him to prevent a possible Allen run. The quarterback spotted the opening and flipped a quick pass to a wide-open Samuel.

WR D.J. Moore, 70 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 8 - 113 - 0 (12 targets)
D.J. Moore continued his positive momentum with a standout performance against the Seahawks. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner got the ball into his hands early on a jet sweep, a staple of the Panthers attack in this game, and Moore scooted for a handful of yards. When the offense went to a higher tempo due to the game script, Moore was the apple of Kyle Allen’s eye and the receiver was peppered with short targets. Moore often transitioned quickly after the catch, becoming a dangerous open-field runner. A target on a corner route at the end of the first half was off target, and it was unclear whether there was a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver on the play. As the Panthers continued to deploy a quick passing game, Moore was the beneficiary, catching everything on underneath routes. The one deep target thrown his way sailed harmlessly out of bounds, with Moore’s route lacking the precision to stack the defensive back. Moore was peppered with Allen passes in the hurry-up at the end of the game, almost singlehandedly setting the offense up in the red zone.

WR Jarius Wright, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (4 targets)
Jarius Wright was targeted on a corner route off play action on Kyle Allen’s first dropback, but the Seahawks had excellent coverage, forcing a throwaway. Wright and Allen subsequently failed to connect on a third down pass, with the ball thrown too far in front of the receiver for him to haul it in.

TE Ian Thomas, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (4 targets)
Ian Thomas was largely a non-factor despite the Carolina offense playing in catch-up mode for most of the second half. When Kyle Allen tried to hit Thomas early on a crossing route, the pass was behind him and he was unable to adjust his body to make the reception. Thomas picked up a couple of catches on quick throws, scooting free for a 12-yard gain on one, but was rarely the focus of his quarterback in the progression.