With the bye week upon us and the season nearly at its midpoint, it’s time to take a look back at all the best plays from the Panthers' first six games. Some plays proved to be the key to securing a victory, while others just looked flat out cool, and some managed to do both.
Here are the 10 best plays from the Panthers' season so far, presented in chronological order. Only you can decide which one deserves the top spot.
Jermaine Carter's blocked punt vs. the Rams
The Breakdown: Early in the fourth quarter against the Rams, linebacker Jermaine Carter burst through the line of scrimmage to block the Rams' punt. The kick flew into the air where running back Reggie Bonnafon recovered the ball on the 5-yard line. Two plays later, running back Christian McCaffrey was in the end zone, thanks to Carter and Bonnafon's game-changing effort on special teams.
DJ Moore's 52-yard touchdown catch in Arizona
The Breakdown: It was Week 3 and the Panthers were on the road still searching for their first win. With new quarterback Kyle Allen under center, the Panthers offense was clicking, and the unit found itself with one more chance to score before halftime. Allen already had a five-yard touchdown pass, but now it was time to let him sling it. Wide receiver DJ Moore ran a deep in-breaking route and caught the ball in front of four Cardinals defenders before turning on the jets and dashing to the longest touchdown of his career. The score with 58 seconds left in the half gave the Panthers a 14-10 lead and helped the team secure its first victory of the season.
Donte Jackson climbs the ladder for second interception vs. the Cardinals
The Breakdown: This is one of those plays that looks ridiculous and changed the game. With the Panthers leading the Cardinals 35-20 late in the fourth quarter, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray was attempting some late-game heroics. Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson had already picked Murray off once, so why not add another to the stat book? Jackson shut down any hopes of a comeback by recording the highest jump known to mankind and pulling down his second interception of the day.
CMC's bobbling, diving catch for a first down in Houston
The Breakdown: The Panthers led the Texans 13-10 early in the fourth quarter, but were facing a third-and-7 deep in their own territory. So, like any good quarterback knows to do on third-and-long, Allen found a way to get the ball to McCaffrey on a drag across the field. The four-yard route wouldn't have been enough to pick up the first down, but luckily for the Panthers, McCaffrey bobbled the ball, tipping it up to himself before diving to make the catch and sliding head-first across the first down line. McCaffrey does a lot of incredible things, but that combination of athleticism, concentration and awareness was next level CMC. The first down may not have resulted in a touchdown, but it did let the Panthers chew four more minutes off the clock before setting up the next top play.
Vernon Butler's strip-sack of Deshaun Watson
The Breakdown: With the Panthers leading 13-10 and just over four minutes left on the clock, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was trying to engineer a comeback. one last shot to mount a comeback – but not if Panthers defensive tackle Vernon Butler had anything to say about it. Butler bullied his way into the backfield and knocked the ball away from Watson, letting safety Eric Reid dive on the loose ball and giving the Panthers offense a chance to close out the game.
Kyle Allen's miraculous escape of J.J. Watt
The Breakdown: After the Panthers defense got the ball back, it all came down to Allen and the offense to either put more points on the board or run out the rest of the clock. With three minutes left in the game, the Panthers were facing a third-and-11 and needed to convert if they wanted to secure a win. Allen dropped back to pass and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt came free straight up the middle, with Allen dead in his sights. Somehow, Allen ducked Watt, regained his balance and lofted a 17-yard completion to wide receiver Jarius Wright to keep the drive alive. It seemed like magic, but Allen was able to turn a 13-yard loss into a big gain. From there, the Panthers were able to run out nearly all of the remaining clock and tack on another field goal, sealing the 16-10 victory.
McCaffrey front flips into the end zone against Jacksonville
The Breakdown: We've seen plays like this from quarterback Cam Newton, but never from McCaffrey. Something tells me this won't be the last time CMC goes up and over defenders to get into the end zone. After racking up back-to-back road wins, the Panthers returned home looking to bring the same momentum into the matchup against the Jaguars. It's safe to say McCaffrey brought it, and he did so in style, flipping over a Jags defender for the 5-yard touchdown. Next step: land the flip.
Brian Burns' 56-yard scoop and score
The Breakdown: This one looked like it was going to be a shootout, with 21 total points already on the board after the first quarter. Well, the best way to win a shootout is by having your defense pitch in, and that's exactly with edge rushers Brian Burns and Mario Addison did. Addison bulldozed his way through the offensive line, pushing his blocker straight into Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew. The ball popped out, and after one clean bounce, Burns was racing all the way to the end zone for his first-career touchdown and a 21-7 Panthers lead.
McCaffrey's 84-yard touchdown sprint vs. Jacksonville
The Breakdown: This McCaffrey guy's pretty good. As if he hadn't rewritten the Panthers record books enough, CMC came out from halftime against the Jags looking to add another accolade to the list. On the Panthers' first offensive play of the second half, McCaffrey made one clean cut right up the middle, sprinting 84 yards for a touchdown and setting a new record for the longest run in franchise history. The touchdown gave the Panthers a 28-17 lead and marked CMC's third touchdown of the game.
Curtis Samuel's ridiculous touchdown catch in London
The Breakdown: The Panthers were leading the Bucs 27-10 heading into the fourth quarter, and wide receiver Curtis Samuel decided to pour on a little bit more. On the very first play, Allen tossed a fade to Samuel from the 13-yard line – a ball the quarterback admitted was far too short and inside. But with a guy like Samuel, any ball is catchable, and the receiver made an incredible adjustment to contort his body and snatch the ball away from the Buccaneers defender. Clearly, even Samuel was surprised he came down with the catch.
So, there you have it, the top 10 plays from the Panthers first six games. We want to hear from you which plays are the very best of the best, so be sure to rank your favorites below.