SEATTLE (AP) — Sam Darnold threw for one touchdown, Chuba Hubbard and Raheem Blackshear both had rushing TDs, and the Carolina Panthers stayed in the thick of the muddled NFC South race with a 30-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Darnold and Carolina built leads of 17-0 and 20-7 to take advantage of a sloppy, unenthusiastic first-half performance by the Seahawks. In the second half, the Panthers simply ran through Seattle’s defense and delivered a blow to the Seahawks’ (7-6) hopes of winning the NFC West.
Carolina (5-8) won for the third time in four games, pulled even with Atlanta and is within one game of division-leading Tampa Bay in the NFC South standings after the Buccaneers loss in San Francisco.
Hubbard, Blackshear and D’Onta Foreman were a three-headed trio that Seattle couldn’t stop on the ground. Carolina rushed for 223 yards, with 180 coming from those three backs. Foreman and Hubbard both had 74 yards rushing.
Hubbard’s 2-yard TD run early in the second quarter gave Carolina a 17-0 lead and Blackshear’s 8-yard TD run with 6:57 remaining pushed the lead to 27-17. Blackshear’s TD capped a drive where Carolina ran on eight of the 10 plays and gained 68 of its 74 yards on the ground.
Darnold was 14 of 24 for 120 yards passing but didn’t need to do anything special through the air with the success on the ground.
Carolina also took advantage of a shaky performance from Seahawks QB Geno Smith. Seattle struggled with the pressures brought by the Panthers defense, and Smith made mistakes he’s avoided most of the season.
Smith’s first pass on Seattle’s first offensive play was intercepted by Jaycee Horn. In the second quarter, Smith appeared to think he had a free play with the Panthers jumping offsides, but no flag was thrown and his risky pass was picked by C.J. Henderson.
Henderson’s interception was turned into Eddy Pineiro’s second field goal of the half and a 20-7 Panthers lead.
Smith finished 21 of 36 for 264 yards and was sacked three times.
Tyler Lockett caught a TD pass for a sixth straight game and DK Metcalf also had a 12-yard TD catch, both in the second quarter. Marquise Goodwin caught a 24-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left but Carolina recovered the ensuing onside kick.
While Carolina’s run game couldn’t be stopped, Seattle had no semblance of a running attack with starter Kenneth Walker III and backup DeeJay Dallas out due to ankle injuries suffered last week. The Seahawks had 46 yards rushing, their fourth straight game under 100 yards.
Carolina now controls its destiny in the division. The Panthers beat the Bucs earlier this season and have one game remaining against Tampa Bay. If Carolina wins its last four games, it wins the division.
Seattle went a surprising 0-4 against the NFC South this season. Seattle lost at home to Atlanta and Carolina, lost at New Orleans and fell to Tampa Bay when the teams met in Germany.
Seattle lost DT Al Woods late in the first half to a heel injury. That loss was magnified with DE Shelby Harris missing the game due to illness, leaving the Seahawks without two of their better run stoppers. Carolina played without S Xavier Woods due to a knee injury.
Panthers: Carolina hosts Pittsburgh next Sunday.
Seahawks: Host San Francisco on Thursday night.