Updated at: 09/09/2013 2:05 AM
By STEVE REED
(AP) CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Seattle Seahawks keep coming up with new weapons on offense _ and keep winning games.
The Seahawks, coming off an 11-5 season last year, got a huge play from second-year wide receiver Jermaine Kearse on Sunday to beat the Carolina Panthers 12-7 in the season opener.
Kearse hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson with 10:13 left for the go-ahead score. It was the first career touchdown catch for Kearse, who came into the game with three career receptions.
"I can’t you how proud I am of him," Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said. "It gives me goose bumps just talking about him because he’s like a brother to me. It was a very proud moment when I saw him catch that ball.
"But nobody should be surprised. He was doing it in the preseason. He’s come a long way and his mentality has changed to where he knows he can dominate this game."
Five Reasons the Seahawks beat the Panthers:
1. SEATTLE’S OPPORTUNISTIC DEFENSE: Down 12-7, the Panthers were driving for the go-ahead score when DeAngelo Williams raced around right end.
But 16 yards down the field, safety Earl Thomas closed on Williams as he attempted to make a spin move toward the end zone and knocked the ball free from behind.
Williams never saw him.
Hustling defensive tackle Tony McDaniel made the recovery at the Seattle 8 and Carolina’s drive was thwarted.
The Panthers would not get the ball again.
"That shows what our football team is all about, that relentless nature to keep going after the ball," Wilson said. "We’re getting close to the game being on the line, and that’s what makes Earl Thomas the best in the game."
2. WILSON COOL UNDER PRESSURE: Even after the Seahawks recovered that fumble there was still the matter of running the final 5:25 off the clock.
And Wilson did just that, running what NFL coaches call the "four-minute offense" to perfection.
After Marshawn Lynch was tackled for a 5-yard loss on first down, he calmly completed a 12-yard pass to Derrick Coleman and a 13-yard pass to Doug Baldwin on third-and-3 to move the chains and silence the crowd.
Wilson was 4 of 4 for 54 yards on the drive before taking a knee three times to run out the clock.
Wilson called the completion to Baldwin "the biggest play of the game."
"We are trying to finish the game and the biggest thing is can we make the plays to keep the drive alive and cut off the clock?" Wilson said.
3. CAM NEWTON HELD IN CHECK: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was limited to 125 yards passing by the Seahawks and that simply isn’t going to get the job done.
There were concerns about Carolina’s offense under new coordinator Mike Shula and those will only be heightened after the Panthers managed just one touchdown.
Newton missed a couple of passes _ he overthrew Brandon LaFell and underthrew Steve Smith _ but he didn’t get much help from his normally reliable tight end Greg Olsen, who dropped two catchable passes.
4. SELF-INFLICTED MISTAKES BY PANTHERS: Second-year defensive end Frank Alexander ruined a great sack by teammate Charles Godfrey on a potential momentum-turning play when he decided to punch a Seattle lineman after the completion of the play.
It resulted in an ejection and an automatic first down for the Seahawks.
It was one of a few mental blunders for the Panthers.
Armond Smith, who works as gunner on Carolina’s special teams, also ran out of bounds twice costing the Panthers 30 yards in penalty yardage. The second one was particularly costly. The Panthers had the Seahawks pinned at the 5-yard line but the penalty forced them to re-kick. Seattle returned the next punt to the 26 giving them some breathing room.
Six plays later, Wilson hit Kearse with the go-ahead touchdown pass.
"I’m going to look at the tape as far as Armond is concerned," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Again, the explanation they gave me, I have to see it on tape to see if it jives. As far as Frank is concerned, we talked about them being chippier. We talked about things that they do to try and get you out of your game and he fell for it. To me it was the case of the second man getting caught. Again, we have to get those things corrected because you can’t let that happen."
5. NO HELP FOR STEVE SMITH: Steve Smith had a solid game with six catches for 51 yards, but Carolina’s other wide receivers were held to a combined one catch _ that a 10-yard reception by Ted Ginn Jr.
LaFell, Carolina’s No. 2 receiver, was blanketed all day and was only targeted one time _ and that play was called back on a penalty.
He didn’t catch a pass.
Domenik Hixon, brought in to be the No. 3 receiver, was inactive because of a hamstring injury.
Ginn worked as the No. 3 receiver and at times was manhandled by Seattle’s more physical cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage.
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