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January 11, 2015 at 1:12 AM

The 8 biggest moments from the Seahawks’ playoff win over the Carolina Panthers

The Seahawks are headed to the NFC title game for the second year in a row.

That’s one of several team “firsts” and records that came out of Saturday’s divisional playoff win over the Carolina Panthers — the others involving record yardage.

As predicted, Seattle and its ever-present, ever-deafening 12th Man wore down the visitors, with Carolina never quite able to recover from back-to-back Hawks touchdowns in the fourth quarter. One of those, a pick-six by Kam Chancellor, epitomized the game: a key turnover in a matchup full of them, and a monster play by the safety who made several throughout the night.

That and seven other big moments from the divisional playoff below:

 

Sherman INT stops Panthers’ third drive

Middle of first quarter

 After a slow start for both offenses, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton lobbed the ball Richard Sherman’s way — always a risky move. The cornerback snatched it easily, looking like the former receiver he is — as though the pass had been intended for him to begin with.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman intercepts a pass by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton intended for Panthers wide receiver Philly Brown during the first quarter. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman intercepts a pass by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton intended for Panthers wide receiver Philly Brown during the first quarter. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

 

McDaniel fumble recovery sets up Baldwin TD

End of first quarter

Under an all-out blitz, with Thomas Davis closing in on him, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson spied Doug Baldwin heading into the end zone and lofted it to him for a 16-yard touchdown that put the Seahawks on the board with less than a minute to go in the first quarter. Baldwin had slipped behind Panthers safety Tre Boston.

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin catches a 16-yard touchdown pass from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to put the Seahawks on the board during the first quarter. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin catches a 16-yard touchdown pass from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to put the Seahawks on the board during the first quarter. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrate after Baldwin's touchdown during first-half action. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrate after Baldwin’s touchdown. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

The play was set up when Newton fumbled a handoff to running back Jonathan Stewart and Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel recovered the ball at the Carolina 28.

Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (99) celebrates after recovering a fumbled ball during the first half. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (99) celebrates after recovering a fumbled ball during the first half. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Seattle had 93 yards of total offense in the first quarter, to Carolina’s 55. Only 10 of those were on the ground.

 

Panthers tie it up

Start of second quarter

After an eight-minute drive, Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin beat backup cornerback Tharold Simon (in for Byron Maxwell, who had shortness of breath) to get the red-zone TD and put Carolina on the board.

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon hit Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, but can't stop him from landing in the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon hit Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, but can’t stop him from landing in the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

It was the first touchdown the Seahawks had allowed since the first half of the Dec. 14 game against San Francisco.

Benjamin would best Simon one more time, later in the game, for the only other Panthers touchdown of the night:

Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin makes a touchdown catch past Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon during the fourth quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin makes a touchdown catch past Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon during the fourth quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

 

Kearse scores record-long go-ahead TD

Late in second quarter

Another third-down scoring play for the Hawks: Receiver Jermaine Kearse pulled in a 63-yard pass one-handed, dashed to the 5-yard line and dived for the pylon under pressure, squeaking the ball into the front corner of the end zone. He held off rookie Panthers cornerback Bené Benwikere with his arm to make the play.

Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse brings in a pass from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in front of Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere on his way to a 63-yard touchdown during the second quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse brings in a pass from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in front of Panthers cornerback Bene Benwikere on his way to a 63-yard touchdown during the second quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse dives for a touchdown during the second quarter, with Panthers safety Tre Boston too late to prevent the points. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse dives for a touchdown during the second quarter, with Panthers safety Tre Boston too late to prevent the points. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

It was the longest pass of the season to a Seahawks receiver (Seattle’s tight ends have had longer catches this season). It was also the longest scoring pass play in Seahawks postseason history, beating a record set by quarterback Dave Krieg and receiver Steve Largent: 56 yards against the Miami Dolphins in 1984, also in a divisional playoff game.

 

Chancellor leaps over lines to block FG attempts

End of second quarter

After an interception by Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was called back, Carolina made one run play before lining up for a field-goal attempt from the Seattle 17. With kicker Graham Gano’s leg in mid-swing, Chancellor leapt over the defensive and offensive lines to try to block the kick. He missed, but a false-start penalty on the Panthers set up a do-over 5 yards back.

On the second try, Chancellor did it again, bouncing up to block the kick this time. But because he collided with Gano after he landed, Chancellor drew a penalty and the Panthers got to try once more. Chancellor stayed put, the kick was good, and a third penalty — this one offsides on Tharold Simon — was declined.

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor (31) blocks Panthers kicker Graham Gano (9) but gets called for roughing the kicker in the second quarter.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images)

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor (31) blocks Panthers kicker Graham Gano (9) but gets called for roughing the kicker in the second quarter. Seahawks defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (99) can also be seen jumping up to block the kick. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images)

 

Lynch run sets up Hauschka FG

End of third quarter / Start of fourth quarter

The Beast Mode run we’d all been waiting for came during a sustained drive by Seattle, with Lynch running 25 yards to move the ball to the Carolina 34.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is brought down by Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein and Panthers defensive lineman Star Lotulelei during the third quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is brought down by Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein and Panthers defensive lineman Star Lotulelei during the third quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

The Seahawks struggled a bit after that, though, with Russell Wilson getting sacked on the last play of the third quarter. The 37-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka extended Seattle’s lead to 17-10 at the start of the fourth.

 

Wilson-to-Willson TD

Middle of fourth quarter

This whole game was about field position, and the Seahawks had it good early in the fourth quarter, starting at their own 42. On third and 6, Russell Wilson hit tight end Luke Willson to the Carolina 25.

The Hawks wouldn’t settle for a field goal this time. Wilson again hit Willson, who spun out of a potential tackle and ran it in to break open a 24-10 lead. It was the third time the Seahawks burned the Panthers on a blitz for a touchdown pass.

Seahawks tight end Luke Willson runs toward the end zone on his way to a 25-yard touchdown during the fourth quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks tight end Luke Willson runs toward the end zone on his way to a 25-yard touchdown during the fourth quarter. (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks tight end Luke Willson (82) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during second-half action. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks tight end Luke Willson (82) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during second-half action. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Between the two plays, 54 of the 58 yards on that drive were Wilson-to-Willson.

Another fun fact: A Wilson-to-Willson touchdown sealed the Seahawks’ victory the last time they faced the Panthers, earlier this season in Charlotte.

 

Chancellor pick-six seals the deal

Late in fourth quarter

After Wilson-to-Willson, there was Cam-to-Kam.

With the Panthers in the red zone, Cam Newton fired off what looked like an all-but-guaranteed touchdown pass to Panthers tight end Ed Dickson. But Chancellor stepped in front of Dickson, grabbed the ball and took it home 90 yards to put a bow on Seattle’s nearly-wrapped-up win.

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor runs for a touchdown after his interception during the fourth quarter. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor runs for a touchdown after his interception during the fourth quarter. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates a touchdown during the second half. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates a touchdown during the second half. (Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor celebrates his pick-six with with Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin during the fourth quarter. The Seahawks won, 31-17. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor celebrates his pick-six with with Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin during the fourth quarter. The Seahawks won, 31-17. (Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

It was the longest scoring play in Seahawks postseason history, beating Percy Harvin’s 87-yard score on a kickoff return in Super Bowl XLVIII.

 

Here’s the drive chart for the game:

Drive chart

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