Panthers withstand comeback, outlast Seahawks, 31-24

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - 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.

Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press

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