CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Carolina Panthers built a 31-point halftime lead before barely holding off Seattle’s relentless comeback, beating the Seahawks 31-24 on Sunday to advance to the NFC championship game.
Carolina (16-1) will host Arizona (14-3) next week for a trip to the Super Bowl.
Jonathan Stewart, returning from a foot injury, scored two touchdowns after jumpstarting the Panthers with a 59-yard sprint on their first play. Cam Newton threw for a touchdown and fellow All-Pro Luke Kuechly ran in an early interception for a score as Carolina built a 31-0 advantage.
Seattle (11-7), showing its pedigree as two-time NFC champs, climbed back within seven points as Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns, two to Jermaine Kearse. An onside kick with 1:11 remaining was covered by All-Pro linebacker Thomas Davis – and Charlotte could begin breathing again.