Wrap-up: Seahawks 31, Panthers 14

Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 31-14 win against Carolina in Week 13:

What it means: The Seahawks won a game they could not afford to lose, despite a shaky start. Seattle maintained a share of first place in the NFC West while improving to 6-6 (matching the Rams, who hold the tiebreaker pending a Week 17 game between the teams). Injuries sidelined receivers Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu, making this a costly victory. Seattle can worry about the injury implications later. The team needed to win this game, and it did. Mission accomplished.

What I liked: Seattle showed some heart in the second half. Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett ran hard and well during a 96-yard touchdown drive after returner Leon Washington's poor decision put the offense in a bind. Lofa Tatupu, slowed by knee trouble and personnel changes in front of him this season, put the Seahawks ahead 17-14 with an interception return for a touchdown. Improvement in the running game stands as a significant development for Seattle given its struggles on the ground. Lynch scored three touchdowns, a breakout game. He carried 21 times for 83 yards overall.

What I didn't like: Washington cost the Seahawks field position with a poor decision fielding a punt. Later, his showboating during a long return allowed the Panthers to catch him at the 1. Washington is a very good player. Consider this an aberration. Also, the Seahawks' run defense was a problem once again, particularly early.

Injurie(s) of note: Losing Williams and Obomanu hurt the Seahawks' long-term outlook unless both return quickly.

What's next: Seattle heads to San Francisco for a Week 14 game against the 49ers.