In a relatively short span, the Carolina Panthers have made their mark.
The franchise is a prodigy in NFL terms, reaching the NFC Championship game in its second season of competition and the Super Bowl in its ninth.
The Panthers have been prodigious as well, with several players laying claim to some all-time NFL records despite time not being on Carolina’s side. In a league where the average franchise has competed for a berth in 48 of the 53 Super Bowls, the Panthers hold an impressive array of records in half the average lifespan.
Entering their 25th season, here are five statistical distinctions possessed by Panthers.
LONGEST PASS PLAY IN SUPER BOWL HISTORY
Not counting a quartet of AFL teams that advanced to the early Super Bowls, no NFL expansion team has reached the Super Bowl at such a young age. And in their ninth NFL season – now 15 years ago – the Panthers produced a play in Super Bowl XXXVIII that still hasn’t been matched.
Midway through what evolved into the highest scoring fourth quarter in Super Bowl history, Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme lofted a deep ball for wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who secured it in stride and glided to an 85-yard touchdown. The connection gave Carolina a 22-21 lead that wouldn’t hold up in a 32-29 loss to the Patriots, but the play still stands as the longest reception in the history of the sport’s most famed game.
MOST CONSECUTIVE 1,000-YARD SEASONS BY A TIGHT END
Tony Gonzalez. Antonio Gates. Shannon Sharpe. Rob Gronkowski. They’re all among the greatest pass-catching tight ends to ever play the game, but there’s one thing Greg Olsen has over them. One thing that Olsen has over every single NFL tight end.
For three consecutive seasons, from 2014-16, Olsen finished the year with more than 1,000 receiving yards. It’s an impressive feat at first glance, but then look closer.
It’s never been done.
Gonzalez and Gronkowski managed four 1,000-yard seasons each but not three in a row. The recently retired “Gronk” hit the mark in a stretch of three out of four years but missed the mark because of injuries. That’s a reality that Olsen has had to endure since his historic stretch, but before his foot injury he managed to play 10 seasons’ worth of games without missing a single one while barely missing any plays for that matter.
MOST CAREER RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS BY A QUARTERBACK
Contrary to the view of some, Cam Newton has always been a throw-first quarterback. He just happens to be first among running quarterbacks as well.
Newton and Peyton Manning are the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in each of their first eight seasons, but Newton has no peer when it comes to rushing touchdowns.
He set an NFL record for most rushing TDs by a quarterback in a season with 14 as a rookie in 2011, and in the first game of the 2016 season he became the career leader with 44. Newton will enter the 2019 season with that total up to 58 – tied for the second most rushing touchdowns in the NFL since his rookie campaign, regardless of position.
MOST RECEPTIONS IN A SEASON BY A RUNNING BACK
Already armed with a quarterback that can run, the Panthers recently added a running back that can catch – also at a historic clip.
In 2018, in his second season in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey established a new NFL record for receptions in a season for a running back. His 108 catches are the most by a Panthers player in a season regardless of position.
One year after he and Alvin Kamara of the Saints became the first rookie running backs to top 70 catches and five receiving touchdowns, McCaffrey became an all-time record setter. It feels like there could be more to come.
LONGEST GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL IN NFL HISTORY
In 2018, Graham Gano became the fifth kicker in NFL history to drill a 63-yard field goal, one yard short of Matt Prater’s 64-yard boot in 2013. But Gano did Prater and nearly everyone else in the 63-yard club one better with his long bomb.
Out of the six kicks from 63 or longer, only one other one was a game-winner: Tom Dempsey’s legendary 63-yard boot for the Saints in 1970 that shattered the NFL record of 56 yards at the time. Gano’s kick in Week 5 set off a wild celebration after it saved the day in a 33-31 victory over the Giants at Bank of America Stadium.