Panthers, Seahawks focus on their matchup
There's no time for the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks to dwell on missed opportunities with the two teams potentially jockeying for playoff position as wild-card entries.
"It's what's in front of us," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "Control the situation and take care of our business."
The next order of business for the Panthers (6-4) is hosting the Seahawks (5-5) on Sunday.
The Panthers also would be wise not to look back at consecutive road losses to Pittsburgh and Detroit.
The game against the Lions involved unusual malfunctions from some players who had been regular contributors and a late-game decision from Rivera -- going for a two-point conversion that failed rather than a one-point extra-point kick that, if good, would have tied the score.
The bigger picture might be figuring out why the Panthers have sputtered at times on offense when it seems that a variety of the weapons are being put to decent use.
Most of the offensive numbers look good, but those haven't translated into enough points at times.
"When you miss the opportunity to put points on the board, unfortunately you lose the game," Rivera said. "That's what happened."
It would be difficult to point a finger at quarterback Cam Newton, whose passer rating has exceeded 100 in five consecutive games for a franchise record.
The Panthers have continued to allow the playbook to use young receivers DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, and veteran tight end Greg Olsen seems to have rounded back into form after another injury.
The shortcomings are areas that can be addressed.
"Got to go back and fix them," Rivera said. "We take the good with the bad. You're not going to go out and beat everybody all the time. We've won six games, we've lost four."
The Seahawks lead the NFL in rushing offense with 154.3 points per game. It's a mindset that the Panthers also would like to have.
"I do know they run the ball well," Rivera said. "As a defense, we're going to have to be much better against the run."
The Seahawks' defense has faced tests the past three weeks from three of the NFL's premier quarterbacks -- Philip Rivers, Jared Goff and Aaron Rodgers.
Seattle wasn't quite able to defeat Rivers and Goff, but the team notably held Rodgers and the Packers to three second-half points last week thanks to a dominant pass rush that produced five sacks in the game.
With the impressive defensive turnaround after giving up 21 first-half points, the Seahawks climbed out of an early 11-point hole and eventually came all the way back for a 27-24 win over the Packers.
Now comes Newton, who presents a challenge with his ability to run and throw.
"He's rushed for 350-something yards already, so he's involved with it as much as ever," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said.
Hampered by an ankle injury in the 21-20 loss to the Lions, Newton only rushed two times for two yards but still nearly led his team back from a two-score deficit, passing for 357 yards and three touchdowns. However, he couldn't connect with receiver Jarius Wright on a two-point conversion attempt in the closing moments.
Newton has completed a career-high 68 percent of his passes, thrown 20 touchdowns and only been picked off six times.
One of his targets is running back Christian McCaffrey, who has rushed for 632 yards and four touchdowns and caught 60 passes for 496 yards and four touchdowns.
"They're bombing the ball down the field, they've got great balance, they're using everybody, they got a lot of receivers to use, the tight ends are good," Carroll said.
Carroll is hoping the Seattle pass rush can neutralize Newton.
"It was everybody working together with great intensity and feeding off one another," Carroll said.
Updated November 21, 2018