Up next: Carolina Panthers
When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m., Qwest Field
Record: 1-10 after losing their fifth consecutive game Sunday – 24-23 to the Browns in Cleveland
Where they rank: No. 32 on offense (22nd rushing, 32nd passing); No. 14 on defense (25th rushing, tied for 7th passing)
Series: Panthers lead 2-1, including a 13-10 win in the last meeting – Dec. 16, 2007 in Charlotte. But the Seahawks beat the Panthers 34-14 in the 2005 NFC Championship game at Qwest.
Star power: James Anderson. The one thing the Panthers have done OK is play defense, and Anderson leads them with 99 tackles from his strong-side linebacker position. There are, of course, “bigger” names on the roster: wide receiver Steve Smith, running back Jonathan Stewart, rookie QB Jimmy Clausen, middle linebacker Jon Beason. But none of them have played better than Anderson, who also has 2½ sacks, an interception and four games with double-digit tackles – including a career-high 16 against the Saints in Week 4. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder is in his fifth season and was a third-round draft choice in 2006 out of Virginia Tech.
Unsung hero: John Kasay. He entered the league in 1991 as the Seahawks’ fourth-round draft choice and still ranks fourth in club history with 82 field goals and seventh with 341 points. Now in his 20th season, and at 41, he’s still kicking. He has scored 66 of the Panthers’ league-low 140 points. But two of his four missed field goals – in 22 attempts – came in Sunday’s loss at Cleveland. His 42-yarder hit the left upright as time expired in the one-point loss. But he has 425 field goals in his career, which ranks sixth all-time.
On the spot: Chris Gamble. The veteran cornerback had started 42 consecutive games. Until last week, when coach John Fox replaced Gamble in the starting lineup with Captain Munnerlyn. Gamble still played in the nickel defense, but Fox made his point. He was not happy with Gamble’s performance, so he benched a player who had been a starter since being the Panthers’ first-round draft choice in 2004. Fox was noncommittal on Monday when asked if Gamble would return to the starting lineup against the Seahawks.
Burning question: Will the Panthers be able to continue the onslaught of rushing yards against the Seahawks’ defense? After allowing an average of 70.4 rushing yards in their first five games, the Seahawks have allowed 162 per game the past six weeks. They won’t have to contend with DeAngelo Williams. He was placed on injured reserve with a sprained right arch. But he still leads the team in rushing (361 yards), despite playing in only six games. Jonathan Stewart returned last week, after missing two games because of a concussion, and rushed for a season-high 98 yards on 12 carries against the Browns. While both were out, Mike Goodson had back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens. The Panthers produced a season-high 151 rushing yards against the Browns.
Familiar faces: In addition to Kasay, Stewart was an all-state running back at Timberline High School in Lacey before going to the University of Oregon. Also, secondary coach Ron Milus played (1982-85) and coached (1991-85) the University of Washington and is from Tacoma.
The last word: “I thought it showed great heart and great effort and great execution to get in position. Unfortunately, it’s been like Groundhog Day with the results; we ended up short in the end.” – Fox, after the Panthers drove 71 yards before Kasay missed the last-second field goal against the Browns
Tags: Captain Munnerlyn, Carolina Panthers, Coach John, Draft Choice, Jimmy Clausen, John Fox, John Kasay, Jon Beason, Jonathan Stewart, Middle Linebacker, nfc championship game, qwest field, Rookie Qb, Strong Side, Th Season, Unsung Hero, Veteran Cornerback
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