by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - The Seattle Seahawks earned a much-needed 16-12 road victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
With the New England Patriots coming to town this week and then another two-game road trip to San Francisco on a Thursday night and Detroit, Seattle desperately needed the win to keep pace in a suddenly dominant NFC West division.
Seattle almost fumbled the game away with a handful of costly penalties, three turnovers in the third quarter and struggles in the redzone that forced them to settle for field goals.
The Seahawks fought back and were able to win against the Panthers, but coach Pete Carroll knows they have areas they still need to clean up.
T Breno Giacomini was benched in the first half after picking up a holding penalty that negated a 56 yard pass from QB Russell Wilson to WR Golden Tate and another personal foul on a late hit on the sideline. He was replaced by T Frank Omiyale for a series in the second quarter.
"I better start reinforcing a lot better than I'm doing. I'm not doing a very good job here," Carroll said. "It's not because it's not emphasized, the message just isn't hitting home yet."
Seattle has 44 penalties - the most of any team in the NFL through five weeks - for 363 yards, which is tied for third most in the league. They have two games already with 10-plus penalties this season. While the amount has been cut back the last two weeks, the penalties they have incurred have been more costly.
"We've got very aggressive guys and we've sought them out and now we're dealing with it," Carroll said.
Giacomini has been the primary source of frustration for Carroll as his handful of personal fouls continue to cost Seattle greatly. Giacomini has three personal fouls already this season and a total of six penalties overall. Carroll said Giacomini has to get it together if he wants to continue to stay in the lineup.
"Breno needs to corral it or he won't get to play. We'll have to sit him down," Carroll said.
Wilson also threw two interceptions and a fumbled kickoff by RB Leon Washington gave Carolina great field position to start the third quarter.
With Wilson still easing into playing the position at the NFL and the coaching staff keeping the offense reigned in, the margin for error is small. Seattle can't afford to turn the ball over and win many games with their current formula.
They also need to become more efficent in the redzone.
"We need another touchdown a game, and the games will be so much different. Four more points in all of our games, and each game make so much more of a difference than those field goals," Carroll said.
"We don’t make touchdowns. Whether we don’t run it and make a first down, or whether we don’t hit the passes that we had our shots at. We’re just not functioning as well as we need to."
DT Clinton McDonald suffered a groin injury in the win over the Panthers but Carroll did not have an update on his status. G John Moffitt (knee) and DT Jaye Howard (foot) both missed the Carolina game with injuries but Carroll didn't have an update on them yet either.