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Carolina Panthers

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History of the Carolina Panthers


1995: Led by coach Dom Capers the Carolina Panthers take the field with a roster full of solid veterans. In their first game the Panthers play valiant football before losing in overtime to the Falcons 23-20 in Atlanta. After losing their next game in Buffalo to the Bills, the Panthers play their first home game in Clemson, South Carolina better known as "Death Valley" with rookie Quarterback Kerry Collins getting the start after Frank Reich struggled in his two starts. The Panthers would lose again 31-10 to the St. Louis Rams. The Panthers would go on to lose their first five games before beating the New York Jets 26-15 behind a 36 yard interception return by Sam Mills. The win would be the first of four straight as the Panthers even beat the defending Super Bowl Champion 49ers in San Francisco 13-7. The Panthers would continue to play solid football splitting their next six games, before losing their season finale 20-17 to the Redskins in Washington. Had the Panthers won they would have completed their inaugural season with a .500 record. However at 7-9 they still were able to post the best record ever for an expansion team.

: On September 1st the Panthers christen Ericsson Stadium their new place in Charlotte, with an impressive 29-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers would win their first three games, before four straight road losses sandwiching two home wins dropped them to 5-4. From there the defense would take over as the Panthers won their final seven games to finish with a 12-4 record, as the Panthers defense held teams to stingy 218 points on the season, 2nd best in the NFL.  Thanks to a sweep of the San Francisco 49ers the Panthers won the NFC Western Division Title earning a 1st Round bye. After an undefeated regular season at home the Panthers hosted the defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys at Ericsson Stadium. The Panthers would jump out early and would go on to win 26-17, as Sam Mills' long interception return sealed the game. However, the Panthers magical season would end a week in the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay with a 30-13 loss to the Packers.

: The Panthers playoff hopes take a hit before the season even starts as Quarterback Kerry Collins suffers a badly broken jaw on a controversial cheap shot by Bill Romonowski of the Denver Broncos. The injury seemed to affect Collins all season as he struggled horribly throwing 21 interceptions to just 11 Touchdown passes as the Panthers played mediocre all season on the way to a disappointing 7-9 record.

: First came rumors that Quarterback Kerry Collins made an off color racial slur, that made him a pariah to his teammates. After a 0-4 start Collins suddenly quit the team leading the Panthers to release their once promising quarterback. Under Steve Beuerlein the Panthers continued to struggle eventually extending their losing streak to seven straight games. The Panthers would go on to finish with a horrible 4-12 record as the Panthers played uninspired football all season, seemingly quitting at the end of the season. Following the season Coach Dom Capers would be fired and replaced by George Seifert, who had an impressive .766 career winning percentage in eight years with the San Francisco 49ers. 

: The Panthers stumble out of the gate losing five of their first seven games, in their first year under George Seifert. However, with Steve Beuerlein passing for 4,436 yards while connecting on 44 Touchdown passes the Panthers win six of their final nine games to post an 8-8 record. Helping Beuerlein is a trio of receivers who put up big numbers. Muhsin Muhammad and Patrick Jeffers each gain over 1,000 receiving yards while Tight End Wesley Walls collected 822 yards. The three combined for 32 Touchdown receptions with Walls and Jeffers having 12 each. However, it was the off the field exploits of another receiver that brought embarrassment to both the Panthers and the NFL. On an off day in November Carruth participated in the drive by shooting of his pregnant girlfriend. Although the baby would survive his victim, Cherica Adams would die from her wounds leading to a sensational murder trial. Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to 25 years; ending a promising NFL career.

: Prior to the start of training camp the Panthers are devastated by domestic violence again when Running Back Fred Lane is murdered by his wife. The Panthers never quite get it rolling losing three of their first four games on the way to a 7-9 season. Following a season in which he passed for 3,730 yards Quarterback Steve Beuerlein is not re-signed as the Panthers selected Heisman Winner Chris Weinke in the fourth Round.

: The Panthers get off to a promising start as Quarterback Chris Weinke stars in a 24-13 win over the Vikings in Minnesota in the season opener. After the September 11th terrorist attack postponed the second week of the season the Panthers fell to 1-1 with a 24-16 loss to the Falcons in Atlanta. The Panthers would drop their next two games, falling to 1-3, before losing on a last second Touchdown to the New Orleans Saints at Ericsson Stadium 27-25. A week later they would fall to 1-5 after blowing a 14-0 lead to the Redskins in Washington. A week later it was heartbreak at Ericsson Stadium again with a 13-12 loss to the New York Jets. It would only get worse as the Panthers continued a downward spiral blowing leads losing close games and getting blown out. When the smoke cleared the Panthers found themselves at 1-15 after a first ever in season 15 game losing streak. The Panthers were simply bad on both sides of the ball ranking 30th of 31 teams in offense and dead last in defense.  Following the season Coach George Seifert is fired, losing 32 games in three seasons in Carolina; two more then he lost in eight seasons in San Francisco with the 49ers.

: After losing their final 15 games the year before the Panthers had to start from scratch and with new Coach John Fox the Panthers decided to build with defense drafting Defensive End Julius Peppers from North Carolina  with second overall pick in the NFL Draft. When the season started the Panthers went the veteran route with their starting Quarterback naming Rodney Peete who had not taken a snap in three years as their starter. Peete would prove a serviceable solution as the Panthers won their first three games. However, injuries would lead to an eight game losing streak as the Panthers plummeted into last place in the NFC South. However, the Panthers would end the season on a string note winning four of their last five games to finish with a 7-9 record. Top Rookie Julius Peppers would go on to win defensive rookie of the year honors with 12 sacks in just 12 games as he was suspended the final four games for using the banded supplement ephedra.

: The Panthers started their season in dramatic fashion with a 24-23 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars as Quarterback Jake Delhomme came off the bench and led a 17-point 4th quarter rally connecting with Ricky Proehl with 16 seconds left for the winning Touchdown . In Week 2 the Panthers were shutting down the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers when suddenly on the last play of regulation the Bucs appeared to have the game won with a Touchdown. However, the Panthers were given a stunning stay of execution as the Panthers blocked Martin Gramatica's PAT. In overtime the Panthers would take advantage beating the Bucs on a 47-yard Field Goal by John Kasay. After winning the next two games the Panthers faced the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 in a showdown of unbeaten teams. Again the Panthers would win in dramatic fashion rallying from a 13-3 halftime deficit to win in overtime 23-20, improving to 5-0. After losing to the Tennessee Titans the following the Panthers again came from behind to win overtime beating the New Orleans Saints on the road 23-20. After a stunning loss to the Houston Texans the Panthers again won in dramatic fashion sweeping the Buccaneers 27-24 with a five yard Delhomme to Steve Smith Touchdown Pass with 1:05 left to give the Panthers full control of the NFC South. The following week the Panthers did it again as Stephen Davis made his former team pay scoring a Touchdown with 1:09 left as the Panthers beat the Washington Redskins 20-17. At 8-2 the Panthers were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. However things would be rough as the Panthers lost their next three games. Needing to get momentum into the playoffs the Panthers took advantage of weak competition beating three last place teams to close the season with a solid 11-5 record good enough for their second division title in franchise history. The Panthers got their playoffs off to a strong start with a dominant 29-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys at home avenging a loss from the regular season, holding the Cowboys to just 204 total yards along the way as Stephen Davis alone collected 239 All-Purpose Yards with two Touchdowns. The Panthers second round game on the road against the St. Louis Rams would not be nearly as easy as the Rams scored 11 points in the final five minutes to send the game to overtime tied 23-23. After each team missed potential game winning field goals in the first overtime the Panthers again showed their flare for the dramatic as Jake Delhomme connected with Steve Smith on a dramatic 69-yard Touchdown pass on the first play of the 6th Quarter as the Panthers advanced to the NFC Championship Game with a 30-23 win. Facing the Philadelphia Eagles not many people had given the Panthers a chance to reach the Super Bowl. However the Panthers defense harassed and hassled QB Donovan McNair all game as Ricky Manning intercepted McNabb three times, while pressuring him all game with five sacks one of which injured the All-Pro Quarterbacks’ ribs eventually forcing him to miss the entire 4th Quarter, as the Panthers advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII with a 14-3 win.

Super Bowl XXXVIII
: The Panthers road to Super Bowl XXXVIII had been an improbable one, just two seasons after a wretched 1-15 season the Panthers were now in the biggest game of them all against the New England Patriots. After a scoreless 1st Quarter the Patriots drew first blood after Jake Delhomme fumbled on the Panthers own 20-yard line. The Panthers would recover with a quick 90-yard drive to tie the game 7-7. However, the Pats responded with a quick drive of their own to take a 14-7 lead with 18 seconds left in the half.  The Panthers would not go quietly into halftime as they moved into Field Goal range quickly allowing John Kasay to hit a 50-yard FG as time expired in the 2nd Quarter. After a scoreless 3rd Quarter the Patriots would extend their lead to 21-10 just 11 seconds into the 4th Quarter. The Panthers would strike back quickly on Deshaun Foster's 33-yard Touchdown run. After the Panthers 2-point try failed the score was 21-16, but the Panthers had not been in control all game as the Pats drove down the field an appeared to be on the way to putting the game away when Reggie Howard intercepted Tom Brady's pass in the end zone. The Panthers would take full advantage and on one play turned the Super Bowl into a contest as Jake Delhomme connected with Mushin Muhammad on an 85-yard Touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 22-21 lead. Unfortunately the Panthers two point conversion attempt would fail again. The Panthers lead would not last as the Pats scored a Touchdown on the next drive, while adding a two point conversion to take a 29-22 lead. However, the resilient Panthers would not go away quietly tying the game with 1:08 left to tie the game. However, the Panthers kickoff went out of bounds and the Patriots were set up at the 40 only needing to get into Field Goal range to win the game. The Pats would drive 47 yards as Tom Brady in familiar territory set up Adam Vinatieri who nailed a 37-yard Field Goal as time expired to give the Pats the Lombardi Trophy with a 32-29 win.

: Coming off their surprise trip to the Super Bowl optimism was high in Carolina as the Panthers looked to be strong again. However right from the first game they would be ravaged with injuries as both Running Back Stephan Davis and Wide Receiver Steve Smith both suffered injuries that would essentially end their seasons in a 24-14 Monday Night loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Panthers would rebound to beat the Kansas City Chiefs the following week, but the loss of several key players became too much to overcome as they dropped their next six games on the way to a terrible 1-7 start. Facing a lost season the Panthers suddenly turned it around with Nick Goings picking up the slack for Davis and Mushin Muhammad having a career year with 1,405 receiving yards and 16 Touchdowns. Suddenly back in the playoff picture with a chance to improve to .500 the Panthers saw a furious comeback against the Atlanta Falcons come up short as their three Touchdown 4th Quarter which forced overtime came up with a 34-31 loss. After rebounding to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week the Panthers needed just to beat the New Orleans Saints at home in the season finale to slip into the playoffs at 8-8. However their offense would sputter in a 21-18 as they would settle for third place with a 7-9 record.

: As the season started the Panthers were considered one of the top teams in the NFL as Sports Illustrated even picked them to win the Super Bowl in their NFL Preview issue. However, in Week 1 they may have gotten a little sting from the SI Jinx as the Panthers were stunned at home by the New Orleans Saints who entered the game still reeling after becoming vagabonds because of Hurricane Katrina. After bouncing back the following week to beat the New England Patriots 27-17, the Panthers stumbled again losing to the Miami Dolphins 27-24. The loss in Miami would spoil a career day from WR Steve Smith who collected 170 yards receiving with 3 Touchdowns. It would not be the only big day Smith would enjoy as the Panthers 5'9" receiver who was thought by most experts established himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL leading the league with 1563 yards, while scoring 12 Touchdowns. Following the disappointing loss in Miami the Panthers finally played the football experts predicted them to play as they won six games in a row, as Steve Smith had another career day collecting 201 yards in a 38-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Following a 13-3 setback on the road against the Chicago Bears and consecutive wins over the Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers at 9-3 faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the NFC Southern Division on the line. The Panthers would fall behind early as the Bucs tough defense held the Panthers scoreless during the first half taking a 10-0 halftime lead. After each team exchanged field goals in the 3rd Quarter the Buccaneers took a stranglehold of the game as Cadillac Williams scored his second Touchdown to give Tampa a 20-3 lead on the way to a 20-10 win. After a revenge win over the Saints in Baton Rouge, the Panthers suddenly saw their playoff hopes on the ropes as they lost to the Dallas Cowboys at home 24-20 on Christmas Eve, as a less than jolly Steve Smith was ejected after grabbing an official. Needing a win in their final game the traveled to Atlanta and slammed the rival Falcons 44-11 making a statement along the way to earn a Wild Card berth with an 11-5 record. Facing the New York Giants the Panthers were the team that looked like the division winner as they simply as they simply shutdown the Giants all game long turning the usually loud Giants Stadium into a the quietest place in New York, as the Panthers defense forced five Turnovers as Steve Smith scored a rushing and receiving Touchdown in a dominant 23-0 win for the Panthers. Traveling back to Chicago where they stumbled earlier in the season the Panthers got off to a fast as Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith on a 58-yard Touchdown pass just 55 seconds into the game. The Panthers behind three John Kasay Field Goals would take a 16-7 lead into halftime, but the Bears would not go down quietly as they scored early in the 3rd Quarter to make the score 16-14. The Panthers would answer back late in the 3rd Quarter as Smith scored on a 39-yard pass. In the 4th Quarter the Bears would again get within two points on an 11-play Touchdown  drive. However, the Panthers would answer back again as Delhomme who passed for over 319 yards hit Kris Mangum for a one yard pass as the Panthers won a trip the NFC Championship 29-21. Facing the Seattle Seahawks the Panthers entered the game limping as DeShaun Foster was injured in the win over the Bears, leaving them without a reliable running game. The lack of a running game would prove costly as the Seahawks defense keyed on Steve Smith and shutdown the Panther star Wide Receiver on the way to an easy 34-14 win to earn a trip to Super Bowl XL.

: After falling one game short of a trip to their Super Bowl, expectations were high for the Carolina Panthers, as they were the trendy pick to win the Super Bowl in the preseason. However, with WR Steve Smith nursing a hamstring injury the Panthers got off to a shaky start dropping their first two games of the season. Steve Smith returned in Week 3, as the Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-24 on a 46-yard Field Goal by John Kasay with two seconds left in the game. The win against the Bucs, would get the Panthers going as they rolled off a four game winning streak, However, following a 17-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Panthers experience their worst loss of the season on a Sunday Night at home against the Dallas Cowboys. After jumping out to a 14-0 lead the Panthers allowed the Cowboys to end the game with 35 unanswered points as first time starter Tony Romo passed for 270 yards against the Panthers defense. After entering the bye week with a disappointing 4-4 record, the Panthers again beat the Buccaneers at home 24-10, scoring 17 points in the 3rd Quarter after trailing at halftime 7-0. The Panthers defense put up their best effort a week later sacking Marc Bulger seven times as they shutout the St. Louis Rams 15-0. However, a week later they would be stunned by the Washington Redskins 17-13. A week later they would be stunned again as they blew a 4th Quarter lead losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 27-24, in the process they also lost Quarterback Jake Delhomme to a thumb injury. With Chris Weinke starting against the New York Giants the Panthers continued their nose dive falling below .500, as Weinke was picked off three times in a 27-13 loss. The Panthers would lose again the following week to the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-3, virtually ending their playoff hopes. The Panthers would win the final two games of the season, but at 8-8 they would fail to make the playoffs.

: After a disappointing season the Panthers hoped they could get back on track in 2007 as they opened the season with a solid road win over the St. Louis Rams. However a week later in their home opener the Panthers suffered a setback losing to the Houston Texans 34-21. The Panthers would recover with a 27-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but lost Quarterback Jake Delhomme to a season ending elbow injury. With newly acquired back up David Carr under center the Panthers lost a chance to get first place as they were beaten at home again, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17. On the road again the Panthers won again in Week 5, beating the New Orleans Saints 16-13 on a 52-yard game winning field goal as time expired by John Kasay, capping a ten point rally in the game's final four minutes. However, along the way David Carr was shaken up forcing the Panthers to call upon 20-year veteran Vinny Testeverde, who was more then up to the challenge leading the Panthers to another win on the road, beating the Arizona Cardinals 25-10. Carr would return a week later, but the Panthers continued to struggle at home losing to the Indianapolis Colts 31-7. It would be the start of a five game losing streak as neither Carr nor the 43-year old Testaverde could get the Panthers offense moving. The Panthers would end their losing streak by finally get a win for the home fans, as they beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-14. However, there would be no salvaging the Panthers season as they ended the year with a disappointing record of 7-9.

: After two straight disappointing seasons, the Panthers began the season under the gun, as they many felt the still had the talent to go deep in the playoffs, yet they continued to fail in the big spot. In Week 1 the Panthers found themselves down again as they allowed two touchdowns in the 4th Quarter and trailed the San Diego Chargers on the road 24-19 with time winding down. However, Quarterback Jake Delhomme drove the Panthers up the field and hit Dante Rosario on a 14-yard Touchdown pass as time expired to give the Panthers a dramatic 26-24 victory. A week later the Panthers rallied again beating the Chicago Bears 20-17 with 17 unanswered points in their home opener. After a 20-10 setback against the Minnesota Vikings on the road, the Panthers posted two solid home wins, as they won eight of their first ten games. After a frustrating loss to the Atlanta Falcons on the road, the Panthers continued to play strong football, scoring a 35-31 win over the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field, as DeAngelo Williams scored four touchdowns, including a game winning one yard plunge with 90 seconds left. A week later the Panthers took control of the NFC South with a 38-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as DeAngelo Williams had another big day with 186 yards rushing and two 4th Quarter Touchdowns. The win avenged an earlier loss in Tampa, when the Panthers posted their worst offensive performance losing 27-3 in Week 6. Following a 30-10 win over the Denver Broncos the Panthers faced the New York Giants with home field on the line. The Panthers played another solid game in the Meadowlands, but lost in overtime 34-28. The Panthers would go on to close the season with a 33-31 win over the New Orleans Saints to finish with a 12-4 record which was good enough for a first round playoff bye. Facing the Arizona Cardinals at home, the Panthers were heavily favored to reach the NFC Championship Game. Early on things looked good as the Panthers scored a touchdown on their first possession. However, they would not score again until the final minute of the game, by then the Panthers completely unraveled, with Quarterback Jake Delhomme committing six turnovers as the Cardinals scored the upset with a 33-13 win.

Dom Capers 1995-1998
George Seifert 1999-2001
John Fox 2002-Present

Hall of Famers
Reggie White DE 2000

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