Trying to avoid their first three-game, single-season skid in three years, the visiting Seahawks look for a fourth consecutive victory over the frustrated Panthers on Sunday.
Seattle (3-3) is ready to move on from a rough eight-day span that started with a 30-23 loss to Dallas at home, followed by the surprising trade of versatile receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets and concluded with a 28-26 loss at St. Louis last Sunday.
The Seahawks haven’t dropped three in a row in the same season since Oct. 23-Nov. 6, 2011.
“(There are) dudes with a lot of heart in here,” linebacker Bruce Irvin said. “Like anywhere else, when you face adversity it’s how you respond.”
Amid their frustration, the Seahawks intend to focus on the positive strides made while nearly overcoming a 21-3 deficit at St. Louis. Seattle scored touchdowns on their final three possessions, each covering at least 80 yards.
Russell Wilson threw for 313 yards and rushed for 106 to become the first quarterback to pass for at least 300 and run for 100. Without Harvin, Doug Baldwin caught seven passes for 123 yards and TD as the Seahawks outgained the Rams 463-272.
However, Seattle allowed a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown, a 75-yard kickoff return that set up a Rams’ touchdown and a fake punt late in the fourth that allowed St. Louis to run out the clock.
“We’ve got work to do, we’ve got work to do to get consistent,” coach Pete Carroll said.
A Seahawks team ranked first in total defense (273.6 yards per game) and points allowed (14.4) last season had yielded at least 300 in the four games prior to facing the Rams and ranks 19th giving up 23.5 points per contest.
Injuries haven’t helped, but Carroll is optimistic cornerbacks Byron Maxwell (calf) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (ankle) could play Sunday.
Wilson, meanwhile, ranks among the league leaders completing 65.7 percent of his passes while throwing 10 TDs, two interceptions and posting a 101.9 passer rating. Though he’s rushed for more than 100 yards in two of the last three contests, Wilson would rather succeed with his arm than his legs.
”I really don’t want to run, to be honest with you,” he said. ”I’m trying to throw it all the time and keep my eyes down the field.”
Wilson went 25 of 33 for 320 yards during last season’s 12-7 victory at Carolina. He connected with Jermaine Kearse on a 43-yard scoring play early in the fourth quarter for the decisive touchdown.
Cam Newton completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 266 yards with a TD and was sacked five times as Seattle has held the Panthers to 19 points in winning the last two meetings in as many seasons.
Newton threw for 284 yards with two TDs and ran for 107 with another score in the 37-all tie at Cincinnati on Oct. 12, but was held to 246 total yards in last Sunday’s 38-17 loss at Green Bay.
The Panthers (3-3-1), who lead the South only because no other team in the division has more than two wins, trailed 28-0 before Graham Gano’s 33-yard field goal ended the first half.
”We’re number one in the division right now, but if we continue to play the way we have it won’t last long,” linebacker Thomas Davis said.
The reigning South champions ranked just behind Seattle allowing 15.1 points per contest last season when they gave up 30 or more once. Ranked 29th in scoring defense (27.9) this season, Carolina has given up an average of 34.8 points its last five games since allowing 21 total in consecutive wins over Tampa Bay and Detroit to start the season.
“What are we going to do? Quit? Absolutely not,” Newton said. “We have to keep going, keep fighting and we’ll figure out a way to get out of this.”
Carolina will have linebacker and reigning defensive player of the year Luke Kuechly on the field after he was ejected but not fined for making contact with back judge Steve Freeman in the third quarter at Green Bay. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday the NFL informed him that Kuechly was wrongfully ejected.
Running back DeAngelo Williams could be back after missing the last three games with an ankle injury, but it’s uncertain how the offensive line will look.
Rookie guard Trai Turner is out with a sprained knee and ankle while the statuses of tackle Byron Bell (elbow) and guard Amini Silatolu (calf) remain uncertain.