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Walker sparks Seahawks to win over Panthers

Running back's two second-half TDs see Seattle pull away

By TIM BOOTH, Associated Press
Published: September 24, 2023, 5:16pm

SEATTLE — On the weekend the Seattle Seahawks honored their past, their performance on the field looked like the height of their run a decade ago.

An offense that leaned on a strong run game. A convincing second-half effort after a shaky start. And a frenzied crowd that caused problems for the opponent.

“It felt like what it feels like to be here. That was a thrill,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.

Kenneth Walker III rushed for 97 yards and two second-half touchdowns, Jason Myers kicked five field goals, and the Seahawks pulled away in the second half for a 37-27 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Seattle honored its Super Bowl championship team from 10 years ago and played with some similarity to that squad. The Seahawks leaned on their run game with Walker and Zach Charbonnet. Their run defense stymied the Panthers and eventually made them one-dimensional.

And Seattle’s crowd got in on the act, leading to eight false start penalties for Carolina.

“That was amazing. They were loud. … We need more of that each and every home game,” defensive tackle Jarran Reed said.

Walker was a star on a day that didn’t start smoothly for Seattle’s offense. He produced big plays both on the ground and in the pass game. Walker’s 36-yard reception midway through the third quarter set up his 1-yard touchdown run after Seattle had settled for field goals every other time it reached Carolina’s side of the field.

Walker later restored a two-score lead for Seattle (2-1) when he sprinted untouched for a 7-yard touchdown with 11:40 remaining. Charbonnet added 46 yards rushing and Seattle finished with 146 yards on the ground.

“To have two runners that are equally dynamic and explosive, man, it’s just great for our offense,” quarterback Geno Smith said.

Smith threw his first interception of the season, but still had a solid day. He threw for 291 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to undrafted rookie Jake Bobo with 4:17 left. That was followed by a wild 2-point conversion where Smith escaped pressure and chucked a pass from outside the 20-yard line to Tyler Lockett. DK Metcalf had six catches for 112 yards.

Veteran Andy Dalton started for Carolina in place of No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young, who suffered an ankle injury in last Monday’s loss to New Orleans.

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Dalton did his part in keeping the Panthers (0-3) close, throwing for 361 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown to DJ Chark Jr. in the first half and a 15-yard TD to Adam Thielen with 1:40 left. Thielen had 11 catches for 145 yards.

Carolina led 13-9 only to see Seattle score the next 13 points. The Panthers pulled within 22-20 on Miles Sanders’ 1-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter but would get no closer. It was Carolina’s 53rd consecutive loss when trailing in the fourth quarter.

“You don’t come into Seattle and throw 58 times and win very many games,” Carolina coach Frank Reich said. “That was not the formula we wanted. The run game was nonexistent.”

KICKIN’ IT

Myers connected on field goals of 43, 35, 33, 37 and 39 yards. He was 3 of 6 on field-goal attempts in the first two games.

Carolina’s Eddy Pineiro hit field goals from 47 and 44 yards in the first half, but missed from 55 yards midway through the third quarter, snapping a string of 25 successful attempts. It was the second-longest streak in franchise history.

FALSE START

Seattle used to keep a running tally of the number of false starts by opponents at Lumen Field. It might want to bring that back.

The Panthers’ offense struggled with the noise and was flagged for false starts eight times. Left tackle Ikem Ekwonu moved early four times and right tackle Taylor Morton jumped twice.

Carolina had 13 penalties.

“The number of penalties was totally inexcusable. Pathetic,” Reich said.

INJURIES

Carolina lost WR Jonathan Mingo to a concussion suffered late in the first half. Mingo had three receptions for 21 yards. S Xavier Woods suffered a hamstring injury early in the second quarter and did not return, and CB C.J. Henderson had an ankle injury.

Seattle lost starting CB Tre Brown to a concussion suffered early in the second quarter. Edge rusher Darrell Taylor suffered a leg injury in the second quarter and didn’t return. DE Dre’Mont Jones left in the second half with a hip injury.

SUPER BOWL REUNION

The Seahawks honored the 10th anniversary of the only Super Bowl title in franchise history with a halftime ceremony. It capped a weekend of events with a significant number of former players and coaches from that team taking part in the celebrations.

Super Bowl 48 MVP Malcolm Smith raised the “12 Flag” before kickoff and the Seahawks wore the same uniform combo — white jersey, blue pants — that it wore in the Super Bowl win over Denver. It’s believed to be the first time the Seahawks wore white jerseys in a regular-season home game.

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