The Panthers’ defense wasn’t the only issue Russell Wilson met head on Sunday.
Of all the unsubstantiated reports and innuendo floating around the Seahawks the last two weeks — including one report by ESPN and another by NFL.com Sunday morning that cited anonymous sources saying the Seahawks are tired of Marshawn Lynch’s act and the running back is on his way out of Seattle after this season — none was more startling than a Bleacher Report article by veteran national writer Mike Freeman last week.
It claimed some Seahawks don’t think their quarterback is “black enough.”
That, to Wilson, was most puzzling.
“In terms of me, ‘not black enough’ thing, I don’t even know what that means,” Wilson said moments after he led the 80-yard drive that ended with his 23-yard touchdown pass to Luke Willson that beat Carolina 13-9.
“I believe that I am an educated young male that is not perfect, that tries to do things right. That just tries to lead and tries to help others and tries to win games for this football team, for this franchise.
“And that’s all I focus on. … I think, for us, there are no distractions at all. I think it was people trying to find ways to knock us down.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll agreed all the “noise,” as Wilson calls it, has remained on the outside of the team — and thus doesn’t matter to it.
“We have no problem. No problem,” Carroll said. “Whatever the conversation is, that’s the job of the media to try to figure stuff out. That’s not what’s going on here. I have no problem. It was not a distraction at all. Our guys don’t care about what’s being said.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin did acknowledge the Seahawks’ players have ears and eyes — and thus did see and hear the reports.
“Obviously we are human. But as true competitors we have the ability to block out most of that and overcome it,” Baldwin said. “We are human. We are affected emotionally … in different ways. Obviously, those things said may creep into the ears of guys in this locker room. But we have resiliency and a competitive nature, to go out there no matter what’s being said, to go out and fight.
“It’s not so much trying to prove everyone else wrong. It’s trying to prove ourselves right.”
The Panthers earned kudos from all those from Western Washington when they observed a moment of silence just before the national anthem for Friday’s shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.
ROOKIE WIDE RECEIVERS IN KEY ROLES
Part of the reason the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin to the New York Jets two weeks ago — besides the insubordination of refusing to come back into the loss to Dallas late in the game — was the team’s belief in rookie wide receivers Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood.
Sunday, everyone got to see why Seattle drafted them this spring in the second and fourth rounds, respectively.
Richardson replaced Bryan Walters (out with a concussion) as the kickoff returner. He took one back from his own goal line to the Seattle 47 to set up the Seahawks’ only score of the first half, a 58-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that would have been good from 65 or more.
Hauschka’s kick tied Josh Brown’s 2003 team record for longest field goal.
With the Seahawks trailing 9-6 with 4:37 left and backed up on their own 20, Wilson targeted Norwood for a 10-yard gain on which the former star at Alabama barely got his head around on his route turn in time to see the pass, a dart from Wilson that stuck in Norwood’s chest plate.
Three plays later, Wilson hit Richardson for nine yards to the Carolina 39.
“It came down to who was going to make the last play or who was going to finish the last drive,” Richardson said, “and we were able to do that.”
Wilson noticed the kids rising up in the clutch.
“To be able to go to the young guys, to Paul Richardson there, to go to Norwood … that’s what championship teams do,” Wilson said. “And we believe we still are a championship team.”
Richardson finished with two catches for 20 yards and has seven receptions this season. Norwood had two catches in two targets on Sunday for 13 yards. He has three receptions this season.
All-Pro CB Richard Sherman returned punts with Walters out. Sherman fair-caught one punt and returned another but was tackled immediately in traffic for no gain. … The inactives for the game were no surprise, extra offensive tackle Andrew McDonald plus all injured Seahawks, including four starters: Walters, cornerback Byron Maxwell (strained calf), linebacker Bobby Wagner (turf toe), center Max Unger (sprained foot), tight end Zach Miller (ankle surgery), defensive tackle Jordan Hill (sprained ankle). … WR Phil Bates was active for the first time this season and got in on one offensive play in the third quarter... Seattle signed him yesterday off its practice squad while I was flying here, and placed fullback Derrick Coleman on season-ending injured reserve because of his broken foot. … Seattle has spent most of the season as one of the worst defenses on third downs, and was 28th in the league allowing almost 50 percent conversions. Sunday, the Seahawks held Caroling to just two conversions on 10 third downs. FS Earl Thomas attributed that to better play on first downs, creating longer distances for the Panthers.