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Seahawks collapse again, fail to finish in loss to Panthers

SEATTLE -- For the fourth time this season, the Seattle Seahawks held a fourth-quarter lead that they watched evaporate before an eventual loss.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton engineered an eight-play, 80-yard drive down the stretch and found tight end Greg Olsen wide open downfield for a 26-yard touchdown that gave the Panthers a 27-23 victory.

The Seahawks led by nine points in the fourth quarter but blew it once again. The defense allowed Carolina to string together consecutive touchdown drives of 80 yards. The offense failed to score on four of its final five possessions, which included three punts.

For the second straight week, it was a meltdown. There's no other way to label it.

Last week against the Bengals, the Seahawks blew a 24-7 fourth-quarter lead for their third loss of the season. This week, Pete Carroll pulled out all the stops. He showed the team clips of how they'd finished games in the past. He held a special meeting Wednesday morning to talk about the direction of the team with the players.

Apparently, none of it worked.

The Seahawks had a tremendous opportunity to pick up a game on the Arizona Cardinals in the standings. Instead, they're at 2-4 after six weeks, and their season appears to be slipping away.

Would you believe: The Seahawks allowed four touchdown drives of 80 yards to the Panthers? The defense was playing without middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, but the secondary and starting defensive line are healthy. Newton finished 20-for-36 for 269 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

Did you see: Ricardo Lockette's spectacular 40-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter? The Seahawks were clinging to a three-point lead at the time, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell reached into his bag of tricks for a new-school flea-flicker. Russell Wilson handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, who started to his right before tossing it back to Wilson. Wilson then fired downfield to Lockette, who leaped and reached over safety Kurt Coleman's helmet to come down with the catch. Had the Seahawks won, this would be the play people are talking about in Seattle.

One reason to get excited: Jimmy Graham had his best game as a Seahawk. He finished with eight catches for 140 yards on 12 targets. Graham had mostly been an underneath option for Wilson in previous weeks, but on Sunday, he was spectacular downfield and averaged 17.5 yards per reception.

One reason to panic: The Seahawks' issues against opposing tight ends continued. Olsen finished with seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. Seattle entered the game as the worst defense in the league, in terms of covering tight ends, according to Football Outsiders' rankings. That distinction is unlikely to change after this one.

Fantasy watch: It was not a monster game for Lynch, but he erased any doubt that he is the primary back. Lynch carried 17 times for 54 yards and a touchdown. He was also targeted three times in the passing game.

Up next: It'll be a short turnaround. The Seahawks travel to San Francisco for a Thursday night matchup against the 49ers. Carroll will try to find some way to get this group to bounce back after two heartbreaking losses.