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Different players, same result for Seahawks

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It was the same type of game as a year ago, even the score and the way it ended -- with a come-from-behind victory by the Seattle Seahawks -- was similar.

But many of players who helped earn the 13-9 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday are different than the ones that won 12-7 at Charlotte 13 months ago to start a Super Bowl winning season.

And that makes it even more impressive to see quarterback Russell Wilson work his late-game heroics once again, leading the Seahawks on an 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter for the only touchdown of the game -- a 23-yard pass to tight end Luke Willson.

But consider these numbers: Nine of the 22 players who started the game at Charlotte 13 months ago were not on the field Sunday -- five moved on, three were injured and one retired.

The five that left are defensive end Red Bryant, cornerback Brandon Browner, receiver Golden Tate, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini and guard Paul McQuistan. The three that are injured are center Max Unger, tight Zach Miller and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. And the man who retired was Sidney Rice.

That list doesn’t include two 2014 starters who weren’t playing -- cornerback Byron Maxwell (calf injury) and fullback Derrick Coleman. It also doesn’t include 2014 kick returner Bryan Walters, who didn’t play because of a concussion.

The list also doesn’t include quality backups who played in that game last year, but not Sunday -- nickel cornerback Jeremy Lane (injured), cornerback Walter Thurmond (signed by the New York Giants) and safety/special team standout Chris Maragos (signed by Philadelphia.)

That’s not to say all of these players are better than the ones who replaced them, but the team the Seahawks fielded Sunday is not the one that took them to a Super Bowl a year ago.

Nevertheless, it was good enough to overcome a late-game deficit, keep the Panthers out of the end zone and end a two-game losing streak that had some people questioning their abilities and their commitment to each other.

Some of the newcomers are starting to make a difference.

Rookie receiver Paul Richardson, in his first game as the team’s kick returner, had a 47-yard return in the second quarter that set up a 58-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka, the first points of the game for the Seahawks.

Nickel cornerback Marcus Burley came up with his first career interception when the Panthers had a third-and-7 at the Seattle 34 in the third quarter.

“He’s a great addition to our team,” free safety Earl Thomas said of Burley. “It’s all about heart and determination, and he has that.”

Burley’s pick was set up when Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was pressured out of the pocket on a blitz by rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and was almost sacked by defensive end Greg Scruggs, who missed all last season with a knee injury.

Newton also was sacked twice on the final series by linebacker Bruce Irvin, who was suspended for the game at Charlotte last year.

“Lord knows we needed that one,” Irvin said. “We were at a point in our season where we could go left or right. We went right and it's up from here.”

No, this wasn’t the same team that won at Charlotte 13 months ago, but maybe on Sunday they showed they can still be who they were.