The Seattle Seahawks went on the road and pulled off a less-than-impressive 12-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The game was a defensive struggle between a pair of teams that aren't likely to be giving up many points this season.
This game had its share of ugly moments for the Seahawks: failed conversion attempts, penalties, sacks and a running game that struggled to get on track. Ultimately though, a win is a win.
One of the quotes Seattle head coach Pete Carroll likes to repeat is "it's not how you start, it's how you finish." With this win, the Seahawks managed to get off to a good start on the season. Now they must find a way to help translate that early success into the finish they are hoping for.
With that in mind, here are eight takeaways from Sunday's game.
With the running game stalled, the coaches put the game on the right shoulder of Russell Wilson. Despite constant pressure, Wilson rose to the challenge.
Wilson completed 25 of his 33 passes (75.7 percent) and finished with 320 yards and a 115.7 rating. He also threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson was under constant pressure, getting sacked twice, and the running game was unable to get going until the fourth quarter. The Seattle offensive line was simply unable to stop the relentless assault from the Carolina front seven.
It wasn't all bad, though. Late in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks were able to grind out the clock, showing there's reason to be hopeful that this unit might be able to rediscover the form they had a year ago.
Doug Baldwin led all receivers in this game with seven receptions and 91 yards, but those stats don't tell the story of just how well Baldwin played. Every time the Seahawks needed a big third-down conversion, it seemed Baldwin was plucking the ball out of the air for a first down.
None was bigger than the catch he made on 3rd-and-8 in the third quarter.
Wilson was running for his life and heaved the ball to the sideline in what appeared to be an attempt to throw the ball away. Baldwin end up coming down with the ball and getting both feet in bounds. After a failed challenge attempt by Carolina, that catch ended up being the key play on the Seahawk's scoring drive.
Sidney Rice finished this game with just two catches for 35 yards. The problem wasn't that he was unable to get open, but just that he wasn't on the field.
Rice spent long stretches of this game on the sidelines, and that seemed to hurt the Seattle passing game. The Seahawks need Rice on the field to provide QB Russell Wilson with a target who can consistently get open.
The Panthers had no trouble running the ball against the Seahawks defense. Carolina rushed the ball 26 times for 134 yards. That 5.2 yards per carry is quite worrisome for a Seattle team that prides itself on playing good defense.
Both of Seattle's starting defensive tackles were on the injury report this past week, so perhaps there's hope that the run defense will improve as Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel get healthy.
The Seahawks' two sacks in this game are a bit misleading. Newton spent most of this game with almost no pressure. Seattle must find a way to generate pressure on opposing QBs, and getting its three missing pass-rushers back would certainly help.
This game consisted of just 111 total plays: 61 by Seattle and 50 by Carolina. Both teams worked to slow the pace down by running off as much time from the clock between plays as possible. This is the same strategy the Seahawks used a year ago, and Sunday's game plan suggests that it isn't going to change this season.
Running the clock like that means less total possessions for both teams, which leads to less points. Since this strategy doesn't appear to be going away in Seattle, Seahawks fans should prepare themselves for many similar low-scoring games this season.
Penalties continue to be a major problem. Coming off a season where this team was one of the most penalized in the league, there was some hope that the Seahawks might have cleaned up this part of their game. That apparently wasn't the case.
The Seahawks were flagged nine times for 99 yards in this game. While that wasn't as bad as some of their preseason games, it is still not a good showing.