Panthers hang on against Seahawks, Broncos edge Steelers
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP):
Carolina was held scoreless in the second half and only just hung on for a 31-24 win against Seattle yesterday to advance into the final four of the NFL play-offs, along with Denver, which won a similarly tight game against Pittsburgh.
The Panthers jumped out to a 31-0 half-time lead against Seattle, but looked in danger of defeat when the Seahawks pulled within seven points with 1:12 to play.
Carolina recovered the ensuing onside kick, and held on to advance to the NFC championship game next weekend against Arizona.
Denver trailed with less than 10 minutes to play against Pittsburgh, before veteran quarterback Peyton Manning led the Broncos on their only touchdown drive of the game to steer the Broncos to a 23-16 victory over the Steelers.
The Broncos will host New England in next weekend's AFC championship game that will pit Manning against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for the 17th time.
Carolina lost only once in the regular season, and went into the game against Seattle with 11 straight home victories.
The Panthers made all the right plays in building a 31-0 lead, then were dominated by the two-time defending NFC champions in the second half.
"We have to find a way to complete a full game of football," Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said. "We have been known to take our foot off the throttle, and we have to find that killer instinct."
Carolina's players, coaches and fans were feeling the pressure in the final 30 minutes as Seattle staged a relentless comeback.
Denver's win was achieved in contrasting fashion, after trailing 13-12 with less than 10 minutes left.