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Originally published December 5, 2010 at 4:24 PM | Page modified December 5, 2010 at 11:01 PM

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Seahawks rally for 31-14 victory over Carolina Panthers

After failing to reach the end zone in the first half, Seattle scored three touchdowns in the first nine minutes of the third quarter to turn the tide of Sunday's game.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Nine minutes. That's all the Seahawks needed to change the course of Sunday's game — and perhaps their season.

Nine minutes in which Seattle erased an 11-point halftime deficit to Carolina, scoring three third-quarter touchdowns that were testaments to Seattle's offense, defense and its special teams. Nine minutes in which Seattle came together and came back, rallying to a 31-14 victory over the Panthers.

"It finally just jumped," coach Pete Carroll said. "I don't know. It's kind of a little bit mystical there. I don't know what it was, other than it just happened. It just happened. You saw the results."

You saw it in Seattle's 96-yard touchdown drive to begin the second half. You saw it in Lofa Tatupu's 26-yard interception return that gave Seattle its first lead. And you saw it in Leon Washington's 84-yard punt return, which was one step shorter than it should have been, but still put the Seahawks at the Carolina 2 to set up the second of Marshawn Lynch's three touchdowns in the game.

The Seahawks had failed to gain a first down in the first quarter. They had fallen behind 14-0 to a Carolina team that has the league's worst record and had held no lead larger than seven points all season.

But in nine minutes in the third quarter, Seattle prevented what would have been a disastrous third consecutive home loss.

"It shows we have the drive not to quit," Washington said.

The Seahawks (6-6) had lost four of their previous five games, giving up more than 40 points in each of their two previous home games. But those were against the Giants and the Chiefs, two teams leading their respective divisions at the time. This was the 1-10 Panthers, who went and outgained Seattle 123 yards to 15 in the first quarter.

The Panthers had scored one first-quarter touchdown all season. On Sunday they reached the end zone on their first possession, which ended with Mike Goodson's 6-yard touchdown run. Carolina drove the length of the field in the second quarter, with Timberline of Lacey graduate Jonathan Stewart scoring in his return to his home state on a 3-yard run.

Seattle had a pair of promising drives in the second quarter, but one ended with an interception and the other when the Seahawks settled for a field goal. And just as it appeared Seattle's season was poised to hit a new low, the team dug deep. Carroll spoke to the offense and defense separately at halftime.

"The physical and the mental and the personal challenge hit at halftime," Carroll said.

The Seahawks responded with a resolve that had been missing in recent weeks.

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"Definitely determined," Justin Forsett said. "We had a sense of urgency."

The offense began the second half with its longest touchdown drive of the year, the defense scored on Tatupu's interception, and then Washington's punt return set up the third touchdown.

From the sideline, Carroll saw the team had embraced the challenge he had laid out.

"It was in the look in their eyes," he said. "It was in every hit. It was in every conversation. We just needed to step back. For some reason, it just kind of got away from us somewhere in the last month or so. It just didn't feel right. We hadn't felt right about what we were capable of doing."

The Seahawks rushed for 126 yards in the final two quarters. Lynch scored three times, including a 22-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Seattle outgained Carolina 220-88 in the second half.

Perhaps the second half saved nothing more than what would have been a disastrous December loss at home. Or maybe — just maybe — the second half salvaged something greater for this team.

"We'll be able to come back to this game and be able to learn," cornerback Marcus Trufant said. "Be able to teach from it that it's not won in the first or second quarter."

This was a game that was decided by nine minutes in the third quarter.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Not in such a rush
The Seahawks still are yet to have a running back with at least 100 yards rushing in a game this season.
Yards Opponent Result Team leader
77 49ers W, 31-6 Justin Forsett, 7 carries, 43 yards, 0 TD
109 at Broncos L, 31-14 Forsett, 8 carries, 44 yards, 0 TD
68 Chargers W, 27-20 Forsett, 17 carries, 63 yards, 0 TD
64 at Rams L, 20-3 Forsett, 19 carries, 65 yards, 0 TD
111 at Bears W, 23-20 Forsett, 10 carries, 67 yards, 1 TD
144 Cardinals W, 22-10 Marshawn Lynch, 24 carries, 89 yards, 0 TD
47 at Raiders L, 33-3 Leon Washington, 5 carries, 29 yards, 0 TD
49 Giants L, 41-7 Lynch, 11 carries, 48 yards, 0 TD
110 at Arizona W, 36-18 Forsett, 9 carries, 64 yards, 1 TD
58 at Saints L, 34-19 Lynch, 7 carries, 36 yards, 0 TD
20 Chiefs L, 42-24 Lynch, 7 carries, 20 yards, 0 TD
161 Panthers W, 31-14 Lynch, 21 carries, 83 yards, 3 TDs

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