The Carolina Panthers knew that before they left for San Francisco, and they felt it when the game ended.
"We needed to be in a dogfight to show what kind of team this really is," quarterback
This Panthers team defeated the reigning NFC champion 49ers 10-9 at Candlestick Park on Sunday.
This Panthers team has won five consecutive games. And this Panthers team endured to prove just how relevant it is.
"One of the biggest wins I've ever had," linebacker
This was a brutally physical battle between two of the league's premier defenses.
The 49ers kicked three field goals in the first half. The game's lone touchdown came from running back
The second half scoring was limited to kicker
Gano bounced back by converting a 53-yard field goal with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game to give the Panthers their first lead.
"I was so angry until the ball left my foot on the 53-yarder," Gano said.
Following Gano's conversion, the 49ers faced an uphill battle against a Carolina defense that was firmly settled in.
The ensuing drive started at San Francisco's 12-yard line. The 49ers went three-and-out.
Later, when the Panthers were forced to punt from the San Francisco 41-yard line, former 49er
The 49ers gained 11 yards in seven plays before punting once again with 2:35 remaining.
"This one came down to the way our defense played," head coach Ron Rivera said.
"You could cut through the tension with a knife," Newton said.
It was more than tense.
"It got a little scary," Rivera said.
Stewart fumbled on the following play. Luckily, fullback
Two plays later on third-and-two, Newton never controlled the snap from center
"When I didn't feel it I didn't want to panic," Newton said. "My main thing was trying to get the ball and punt it out and let the defense win.
"That's what those guys did."
After the 49ers burned their final timeout, punter Brad Normtan punted the ball through the end zone. Only 1:02 remained.
On first down, defensive tackle
"Stop the run, hit the quarterback and take the ball away," safety
The Panthers sacked Kaepernick – who had never been sacked more than four times in his career – six times. They limited the 49ers to 2-for-13 on third-down conversions. Carolina outgained San Francisco 250 yards to 151.
"Hats off to our defense. That's the best defense in the league," tight end
And it was Carolina that outlasted San Francisco in a dramatic defensive battle to earn a monumental win.
"It felt like (a heavyweight fight) physically. I am sore and tired," left tackle