Carolina Panthers marched to the NFC Championship game Sunday with a 31-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Cam Newton’s team will now face the Arizona Cardinals next weekend, with the winner facing either Denver Broncos or New England Patriots in next month’s Super Bowl 50.
Seahawks, the two-time defending NFC champions, were embarrassed by the Panthers – who ran away with a 31-0 lead at the halftime break.
“Big Mo” the key ingredient
Cam Newton, playing in his fourth career playoff game, upped the ante and acknowledged the “Big Mo” as the key element to his team’s postseason success. “The playoffs bring out, more than any other time, the impact of Big Mo,” said the quartberack who is expected to be named MVP soon. “Momentum. We can’t wait for no one to make plays for us,” added Newton. |Box Score|
Panthers, on a 12-game winning streak at home, will have home turf advantage against the Cardinals next weekend. On Sunday, they made all the right plays in asserting a 31-0 lead before a few slip-ups allowed the Seahawks to rally back into the game. “We have to find a way to complete a full game of football. We have been known to take our foot off the throttle, and we have to find that killer instinct,” the all-pro quarterback rued after the game, stating that his team learned valuable lessons going into the NFC Title game.
Newton said the final 30 minutes of Sunday’s game will hold his team in good stead going forward. “That’s what this game (against Seahawks) is going to teach us. No matter how good you play in the first half, the second half is just as important. It’s crazy,” said the Panthers quarterback.
Seahawks rallied back in the third quarter with two touchdowns before the first 7:20. In the fourth quarter, with Panthers leading 31-24, all-pro linebacker Thomas Davis hauled in Steven Hauschka’s onside kick – and Panthers fans breathed a sigh of relief. “We made a mess of it in the first half. We look at this game as a microcosm of the season. We struggled so much early in the season to get going, and it took us a long time. When we finally did, we caught fire and got rolling. Everyone in here just feels like we ran out of time,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll rued.
If the Carolina Panthers can pull off a victory next weekend, they will soar into their first Super Bowl since 2003.