SEATTLE -- Last week, Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas missed a regular-season game for the first time in his career, sitting out due to a hamstring injury.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, his next absence likely will be longer.
Thomas broke his lower left leg Sunday night in Seattle's 40-7 win over the Carolina Panthers, an injury that left many of his teammates subdued, even in victory.
"It's a tragic moment," Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said.
Early in the second quarter, Thomas and teammate Kam Chancellor collided while breaking up a Cam Newton pass. NBC's broadcast showed a replay of Thomas' left leg bending at an abnormal angle. Thomas went to the locker room for X-rays, and a fracture was announced shortly thereafter.
Thomas figures to be sidelined at least six weeks, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
"You lose one of the best safeties to ever play the game, in my opinion," Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. "It's a devastating thing for him and for all of us. But at the end of the day somebody's got to step up."
That somebody will be Steven Terrell, a fourth-year pro out of Texas A&M who finished the night at free safety for Seattle.
"Steven Terrell knows how to play the game. He knows how to give us what we're looking for, and he's played really well," Carroll said. "We're all gonna miss the heck out of Earl, but Steven will step up."
--Seattle's 534 yards of offense were a season high, far exceeding the team's previous best of 439 yards in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Sunday total included 240 yards on the ground, the most by any team this season against Carolina, besting the 148 rushing yards gained by the Denver Broncos in the season opener.
Carroll attributed that in part to the improved play of Thomas Rawls, but perhaps more so to the play of his offensive line, buoyed by the return of Justin Britt after the center missed the previous game due to injury.
"I think we were way off last week. Let's just leave it at that," Carroll said. "It's a young group of guys that was really counting on Justin, so without him, it was difficult."
For safety Tre Boston, the reason for his defense's struggles was simple.
"Got to tackle better," Boston said. "Got to communicate. Got to find a way to get more turnovers. ... That's it, honestly."