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July 17, 2008

Biggest play in Panthers history?

Here's something to help get you through summer's doldrums without NFL football (although Panthers training camp begins in just nine days, on July 26): The NFL Network will show Carolina's 2003 NFC divisional playoff game against the St. Louis Rams on Monday at 8 p.m. (Sorry if you're one of those cable customers who can't get the NFL Network without paying extra. But that's another story for another day.) The game, a 29-23 double-overtime victory by the Panthers, included one of the biggest plays in franchise history, a 69-yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith on the first play of the second overtime. That won the game and sent the Panthers into the NFC Championship game the next week, which they won against the Philadelphia Eagles. Then it was on to the Super Bowl.

Was that Delhomme-Smith hookup the biggest -- or most important -- play in franchise history? How about Sam Mills' interception against the New York Jets in 1995, leading to the Panthers' first-ever victory? Or Chad Cota's interception in the end zone against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996, clinching the NFC West and the team's first trip to the playoffs?

Post a comment on this blog on what you consider the biggest play in Panthers history.

-- David Scott

Posted by Observer Sports on July 17, 2008 at 09:52 AM | Permalink


Samson... I believe that was last year vs. Houston, after the Panthers already blew the game, it was pretty much over (I think that TD brought us to within 7 or 8 with a few seconds left) but nonetheless is was a spectacular play.

Posted by: matt | Jul 17, 2008 10:04:07 AM

I dont know about the biggest, but one I vividly remember, the Jacksonville game in '03 where Jake came in and threw one of the most perfect passes that I have ever seen to beat the Jags (week 1 I believe)I think that really set the tone for Jake and the entire magical season that was for the Panthers.

Posted by: matt | Jul 17, 2008 10:06:00 AM

Matt, that was a great play against the Jags...the TD pass to Proehl was beautiful.

Another couple good ones were runs by DeShaun Foster run against the Eagles in the NFC Championship and in the SB against the Pats and the record-setting pass from Jake to Moose in the SB. My favorite, though, was the pick by Cota against the Steelers. I was only 9 at the time, but I remember the feeling in the stadium that day. He made the pick, and the first few moments in my section were spent figuring out who had actually made the play (I think we thought it was Tyrone Poole.) But once we did figure it out and realized we had won the division and we were going to the playoffs, we knew Carolina football was big time. We had pulled off something never before achieved by an expansion team (making the playoffs in two years), and because we didn't know how much losing the route we took to get there would incur, it was a great thing to be a part of.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Jul 17, 2008 10:27:14 AM

How about some real panther fans post here. You don't know that Smith TD was against Houston. We haven't played Miami since '04....and smitty lost that game by dropping a punt on our own 5 yard line...

And, you THINK week 1 with Delhomme to Proehl? What kind of Panther fan doesn't KNOW that was week 1 to Proehl.

I'm going to nominate Julius Peppers at the end of the '04 season when he swiped the ball from Vick's hands and returned it for a touchdown to give us a chance in a season that looked like we had absolutely none.

Posted by: Wes | Jul 17, 2008 10:30:10 AM

that Smith TD only got Carolina to within 34-21. But it was cool. I remember that Peppers play, too. The more I think about it, the more it fires me up. I'm going with Peppers

Posted by: ????? | Jul 17, 2008 10:32:39 AM

I think the Mills play against the Jets was the most important play......that play got the Panthers over their first hump, spurring them to a great finish in their first year of play. It led to the second year playoff run, which is really amazing when you think of it.

It set the winning tone of the franchise. Regardless of what anyone says, the first 12-13 years of the franchise have been amazing....multiple playoffs, one Super Bowl appearance and only 1 truly horrible year.

Without Mills's play, the overall feel and outlook of the franchise could have flipped to a vastly different path.

Posted by: Fred | Jul 17, 2008 10:33:31 AM

The Pass to Smith is without a doubt the biggest. At the end of games, the '03 Panthers usually pounded the ball far enough to set up for a John Kasay 50 yarder; we limp on to next week to do it all over again! Who in the world thought they would win that game on a 70 yard pass with Smith in wide open space? True Classic.

Posted by: jed74 | Jul 17, 2008 10:33:53 AM

I know everyone remembers that game in Tampa Bay in '03 when all the Bucs had to do was kick the PAT to win the game but Jenkins busted threw the line and blocked it (and he previously blocked a FG that game) and we ended up winning in OT, I think that was another sign that the '03 season was special.

the most memorable game that I attended was the home game against Tampa when McCardell caught a bomb in the corner of the endzone which put the bucs in the lead by one, then they got a field goal to go up by 4 but then we got the ball back with about 2 minutes left and jake led a great drive with completion after completion and hit Moose for about 25 and then found Smitty for the score with about 1 minute remaining. That was an unbelievable game.

Posted by: matt | Jul 17, 2008 10:38:36 AM

Week 1 to Proehl, it was the start of a bittersweet season. That might be our only chance at a SB for 10-15 years, who knows. Also, it validated my purchase of 2 section 344 club seats PSL's for $250 on eBay after their 1-15 season. Great timing!

Posted by: whitemiket | Jul 17, 2008 10:39:06 AM

Getting rid of Carr.

Posted by: Chris | Jul 17, 2008 10:40:27 AM

How bout Chris Gambles punt return when he tried to throw it across the field but it backfired cause the Vikes recovered it, we lost the lead, and the game.

Posted by: matt | Jul 17, 2008 10:42:15 AM

What about Foster dragging the Eagles players for a TD in the NFC Championship game in 03?

Posted by: Rick Foster | Jul 17, 2008 10:51:19 AM

The biggest play in Panther's history is also our worst, in my opinion it doesn't always have to be the best.

Super Bowl, John Kasey kicks the ball off out of bounds giving the ball to the Patriots at the 40 yard line with less than two minutes to go.

That was the biggest play in Panther history, if it were not for that bad kick we had a better chance of getting to overtime... but we will never know.

Posted by: Robert | Jul 17, 2008 10:52:40 AM

How about the 1999 season when Carolina was in Green Bay in a tight game. 5 seconds left in the game and Steve Buerlin runs a QB draw up the middle 5 yards for a touchdown and the win! Certainly one of my all-time favorite Panthers plays especially considering how immobile Buerlin was.

Posted by: Ryan | Jul 17, 2008 10:57:03 AM

The biggest play had to be when the Panthers took steroids, intentionally injured McNabb and cheated their way to an NFC birth in the Super Bowl.

Or the time when they put glitter in their helmets.

Posted by: Steven | Jul 17, 2008 11:04:27 AM

Wow, great thread.

The first two that came to mind were the Smith TD against the Rams and the Foster TD against the Eagles.

But I have to say that I'm with Matt that the Proehl touchdown against the Jags is the one that sticks with me the most, because of the emotional roller coaster of a game that we had. I had so much hope going into the season, and watching the Panthers come out and lay an egg under in the first half was depressing. We didn't know until later that what Jake had said in the huddle was "get your **** heads up, we're going to win this game!" but it was obvious he said something. Davis started hitting the holes harder, the holes got bigger, and Smith started getting open. There was a, "can we do this?" aspect to it as it unfolded. I think I remember involuntarily rising out of my chair as Jake scrambled left, then lofted that fade to the corner of the endzone. Remembering the capping moment, Rozinski screaming "HE GOT IT!" still gives me chills. If it were just that game, it would be forgettable, but it was the way that second half launched us towards the Super Bowl, for the greatest season in Panther history.

Jenkins' blocked extra point was huge that season too, partially because it gave us that crucial leg up in the division on the world champs, but also because it was so unbelievable, even at the time. I mean, who blocks an EXTRA POINT, particularly with time expired?

I'm only talking about "biggest" plays here, as in the ones around which whole seasons pivoted. "Greatest" plays would be something different. The play where Peppers tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, and Dan Morgan made a diving interception also comes to mind.

Posted by: Michael Bacon | Jul 17, 2008 11:13:50 AM

The play that you refer to was not even the biggest play of the game aginst the Rams. The biggest play has to be Ricky Manning Jr. stealing the ball from the receiver to save the game. If not for that incredible play, there would have have been no Jake to Steve winning touchdown.

Posted by: Steve Mort | Jul 17, 2008 11:28:00 AM

This is not really on play, but one out of our play book. But running on 3ed and 20, and passing on 3ed and 1 always seemed to work so well. Now why did we ever get rid of old Danny H.

Posted by: Chris H | Jul 17, 2008 11:46:08 AM

Eric Davis Interception against San Fran in 96 . Panthers had a 13 point lead in the 4th and Kasay was setting up for a field goal which would have pushed it to 16. He missed it, Young and Company drove down to get a score to cut the lead to 6. Panthers stalled, SF was driving and then Davis saved the day with the Pick. Both teams won out the remaining games, tied with a 12-4 record, but Panthers got a bye and home field advantage because they beat SF head to head twice.

Posted by: Robert Popoff | Jul 17, 2008 12:04:29 PM

Here's my favorite play...


Copy and paste it into the browser if need be. It really is worth it!

Posted by: Irony | Jul 17, 2008 12:20:33 PM

How about in 2003 when Stephen Davis scored the game winning Touchdown against his former team the Washington Redskins. I was sitting in the upper deck that day and could hear his yell all the way up there. Sure it was just another win of a Magical Season but without Stephen Davis and the Redskins basically giving up on him, I dont think Carolina would have done much good in 2003. True vindication and a great homecoming made for a Super Year! Hopefully one day we can recapture the magic!

Posted by: Ed | Jul 17, 2008 12:47:08 PM

Joe...it is true, the Panthers did sign Dan Conner

Posted by: matt | Jul 17, 2008 1:00:23 PM

I like Peppers blocking the FG against TB!!

Posted by: uhhhhh | Jul 17, 2008 1:38:07 PM

How about Steve Beuerlein's QB draw for the TD and the win in Lambeau Field on 4th down?

Posted by: Pete | Jul 17, 2008 1:57:51 PM

Biggest play for me is easily Delhomme to Smith in overtime over the Rams.

A blooper play that I remember was 2005 (I believe) in Kanasas City, Delhomme throwing a 15 yard TD pass to Mangum as he was still being spun around by the DE. Delhomme was just trying to stop from going down and just threw the ball into no man's land and Mangum dove to get it in the endzone.

Not sure if anyone else remembers that play, but I thought that one was alittle crazy.

Posted by: Hackney | Jul 17, 2008 2:31:12 PM

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