SEATTLE -- The first two times Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught a pass deep in Seattle territory Sunday afternoon, he came up a yard short of the end zone. It seemed like an appropriate metaphor for the Panthers' recent trips to Seattle.
With the game on the line in the final minute of Sunday's game, Olson got another chance and strolled into the end zone untouched for the game-winning score.
Olsen's 26-yard touchdown reception with 32 seconds left gave Carolina a 27-23 win over the struggling Seahawks as the Panthers improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2004.
"It's a great win," Olsen said after hauling in a Cam Newton pass between trailing Seattle defenders Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman to complete the Panthers' comeback from a 13-point, second-half deficit. "It does only count for one win; that's the way this league works. But it felt good. We've had some battles against these guys."
The Panthers ended a three-year draught against the Seahawks, who had beaten Carolina four times in that span.
"This was one of the bigger victories we've had since I've been here," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who is in his fourth year as Carolina's head coach.
Olsen caught seven passes for 131 yards and the touchdown, which came on the same exact play that resulted in a 32-yard reception to the 1-yard line on the Panthers' previous drive.
Newton completed 20 of 36 passes for 269 yards and the touchdown and also ran for a score. Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart ran 20 times for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns. All four of Carolina's touchdown drives covered 80 yards.
Seattle gave up 383 yards of offense and got victimized by a late touchdown in the final minute of regulation for the second week in a row.
"It's very frustrating," Thomas said. "We knew we had them. We don't suck. We know who were are. ... I'm glad we've got a game Thursday (at San Francisco). We get to get back on the football field."
Seattle (2-4) jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead and was ahead 20-7 early in the third quarter before the Panthers started their comeback. Three of Carolina's final four possessions resulted in 80-yard scoring drives, and the Panthers had to overcome a missed extra point that left them trailing by three points, at 23-20, with 3:55 remaining.
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch returned from a hamstring injury to score a touchdown, while tight end Jimmy Graham caught eight passes for 140 yards. Kicker Steven Hauschka booted three field goals, two of which came after Newton interceptions.
Each of the Panthers' first three 80-yard touchdown drives resulted in a 1-yard run. Stewart's second touchdown of the day, which came after an Olsen 32-yard reception, cut the Seahawks' lead to 23-20 with 3:55 remaining, but kicker Graham Gano was wide left on the extra point.
The Seahawks tried to run out the clock on their next possession but got only one first down, eventually punting from their own 35. Newton turned around and led the Panthers on one more 80-yard touchdown drive, covering 1 minute, 48 seconds, and ending in Olsen's touchdown reception.
Olsen ran up the seam unchecked, catching the ball at the goal line before Seattle's Thomas and Sherman looked at each other and threw up their arms in confusion. Thomas said a few minutes later that he'd thought he had heard a call of Cover-3 defense, while Sherman heard a different defense -- leaving Olsen unchecked up the seam.
"It was just confusion about what call we were in," Sherman said. "There were a couple calls being signaled in that were different. And the game's at a fast pace, so you've got to make a decision."
Seattle turned a three-point halftime lead into a 17-7 advantage on its opening drive of the second half. Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette reached over Carolina defender Kurt Coleman to haul in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson as Seattle opened up a 10-point lead.
Safety Kam Chancellor intercepted Newton after Seattle teammate Cliff Avril hit the Carolina quarterback's arm upon release, leading to a 50-yard Hauschka field goal that increased Seattle's lead to 20-7 with 8:49 remaining in the third quarter.
The Panthers responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Stewart, cutting the deficit to 20-14.
After another Hauschka field goal early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers offense put together another 80-yard drive that ended with another Stewart touchdown with 3:55 left.
Carolina got the ball back with 2:20 remaining, trailing by three points, and Newton completed 6-of-6 passes for 89 yards -- he was also sacked for a nine-yard loss -- on the Panthers' final possession, culminating in the touchdown pass to Olsen.
"It's a sign of a mature team," Panthers center Ryan Kalil said of the 13-point comeback. "I think we've grown up a lot this season, and we still have a lot of room to grow."
Seattle had one final chance to win the game, but the Seahawks' last drive stalled out near midfield.
Seattle's Thomas set up the first score of the game with a first-quarter interception, leading to a Hauschka field goal for a 3-0 Seattle lead with 5:37 remaining in the first quarter. Newton recovered from that to engineer a 14-play, 80-yard drive, finishing it off with a 1-yard run to put the Panthers ahead 7-3 early in the second quarter.
The Seahawks' offense came right back with a long drive of its own, going 90 yards and taking a 10-7 lead on a 1-yard run from Lynch with eight minutes left in the first half.
Wilson was sacked four times -- a total of 26 this season -- and pressured most of the game.
"This was a tough game to lose in that fashion," Wilson said. "... We've got to find a way. Fortunately, we have a quick week this week (before Thursday's game)."
NOTES: Star players returned from injury for both sides as Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) played for the first time in three games and Carolina MLB Luke Kuechly (concussion) returned after missing three games. ... The Seahawks were without MLB Bobby Wagner (pectoral muscle), which forced them to move OLB K.J. Wright into the middle while starting Kevin Pierre-Louis in Wright's spot. ... Carolina CB Teddy Williams suffered a concussion during a first-quarter kickoff and did not return to the game. ... Sunday's defeat marked only the third time that Wilson has lost a home game since coming into the league as a rookie starter in 2012.