Rookie Moore leads Panthers to stunning win over Seahawks
By By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE — Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Matt Moore got into the huddle late in the first half Sunday and froze.
Moore kept his mistakes to the huddle.
Becoming the fourth quarterback to start for the Panthers this season, Moore engineered three scoring drives in the fourth quarter and outplayed two-time Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck, as the Panthers stunned the Seattle Seahawks 13-10.
In a bizarre game played in a strong wind and which remained scoreless for more than three quarters, Moore didn’t turn it over and the Panthers defense turned in its best performance of the season.
The victory quieted talk, at least for the moment, of coach John Fox’s job security, and was a rare bright spot for a team that lost starting QB Jake Delhomme to a season-ending right elbow injury in Week 3.
Not with Moore forced into duty with Vinny Testaverde sidelined by soreness in his 44-year-old body, and with Carolina (6-8) having lost six of seven games. And not with the Seahawks (9-5) riding a five-game winning streak a week after they wrapped up the NFC West title.
Hasselbeck’s career-best season took a detour with a lackluster performance, which included a fumble with just under 2 minutes left that ended Seattle’s chances.
They’ll get to try again in the first round of the playoffs, as the loss ended Seattle’s hopes for a bye.
Moore left UCLA because he lost his starting job, ended up at Oregon State and then was cut by Dallas before the season. He showed poise, if not results, early on.
In the fourth quarter, Moore led the Panthers on two field goal drives, the second ending in John Kasay’s 37-yarder with 2:59 left that gave Carolina a 6-3 lead.
On the next possession, Hasselbeck fumbled on a sack by Thomas Davis and Carolina’s Richard Marshall recovered. That led to DeAngelo Williams’ 35-yard touchdown run with 1:20 remaining to put it away.
Moore completed 19 of 27 passes for 208 yards, wasn’t sacked and did not throw an interception after coming into the game with a 21.1 passer rating in six brief appearances.
Hasselbeck was 27-of-41 for 274 yards and was sacked three times. Seattle’s only touchdown came on Hasselbeck’s 15-yard pass to Deion Branch with 1 second left.
Moving the ball was difficult all day with wind gusts up to 30 mph.
The Panthers finally broke the scoreless drought with 12:18 left when Kasay kicked a wind-aided 53-yard field goal. Moore had a 13-yard pass to Steve Smith and two passes to Drew Carter totaling 18 yards on the drive.
The Seahawks seemed to wake up when they fell behind. Hasselbeck was 4-of-5 for 42 yards on the ensuing 76-yard drive that included a 24-yard pass interference penalty against Marshall.
Facing a fourth-and-1 from the Carolina 4, Holmgren put in the kicking team and Josh Brown’s 22-yard field goal with 8:23 left tied it.
Seattle’s dependence on the passing game backfired in the wind, as Shaun Alexander was held to 17 yards on seven carries and Seattle had only 44 yards rushing.
When it appeared Seattle was going to finally score on the first possession of the third quarter, Alexander was dropped for 6-yard loss.
Fox has played coy with the quarterback situation all season, but he was quick to hint that Moore would likely start Saturday night against Dallas, the team that cut him in September.
Notes: Seahawks S Brian Russell (abdomen) started despite missing practice last week. … Panthers S Chris Harris tied Mark Fields’ team record with his seventh forced fumble. … New Seahawks long snapper Jeff Robinson had an error-free day a week after he replaced the erratic Boone Stutz.