CHARLOTTE – No matter how you get there, a 99-yard touchdown drive is always special for an offense and demoralizing for a defense. Prior to Sunday's game, the Panthers had only produced two 99-yard touchdown drives in team history.
But Carolina's 99-yard march against the top-ranked Ravens defense in the second quarter to extend the lead to 21-7 was especially demoralizing in its own very unique ways.
"I don't know what it does to them, but I know what it did for us," quarterback Cam Newton said. "It gave us superior confidence."
It all started when the Panthers faced second-and-9 from their own 2-yard line. Rather than play it safe, offensive coordinator Norv Turner dialed up a shot play down the seam against Baltimore's Cover 3 defense.
Quarterback Cam Newton dropped back eight yards deep into his own end zone before lofting a pass to rookie wide receiver DJ Moore, who was all alone for a 33-yard reception.
That gave Carolina breathing room and then some.
"It's weight off your shoulders. We could exhale," left guard Greg Van Roten said. "Because being in third-and-9 at the 2 is not a good situation. We took a shot and it paid off."
The Panthers needed a conversion on third-and-7 to keep the drive alive moments later, and they got it when Newton connected with running back Christian McCaffrey for an 8-yard gain.
Three plays later, it was third-and-1 and Moore motioned into the backfield behind Newton and McCaffrey. Newton faked the handoff to McCaffrey and pitched it to Moore, but the ball was too far in front for him to control. Moore reached and knocked it down with one hand nine yards behind the line of scrimmage.
"I just need to get up with this ball so it won't be a negative play and I'll get yelled at," Moore joked. "I was looking at the hop that it was taking, and once it took a good hop I picked it up and made a play out of it."
Without stopping his momentum, Moore scooped up the ball and charged down the right sideline. He outran linebacker C.J. Mosley before turning the corner for a 28-yard scoop-and-run.
Moore didn't have much of a chance to catch his breath. His number was called on the very next play, and this time it was a cleanly-handled end-around that went for 11 yards to the Ravens' 6-yard line.
"That end-around," Moore said with a laugh. "I wasn't tired, but I didn't know we were calling back-to-back plays like that! It was fun though."
Then came the wackiest play of them all. On first-and-goal, Newton faked a handoff to McCaffrey and fired a slant to Funchess, but the ball was tipped high into the air by safety Eric Weddle.
McCaffrey stayed alert and was the first to react when the ball ricocheted.
"I beat my dude across his face and I'm looking and looking and all I see is little C-Mac jumping in the air," Funchess said.
Three Ravens were flocking to the ball, but McCaffrey was the one who came down with it for a 6-yard touchdown to give Carolina a 21-7 lead.
"It was an RPO (run-pass option), and Coach Turner always says to be around the ball if you don't have it," McCaffrey said. "I saw the ball in the air and really it was simple – the first reaction was just to go get it. Just see ball and get ball."
Newton shook his head and smiled. McCaffrey shook his head and smiled. Heck, every Panther fan in the stadium probably shook their head and smiled.
"You force your own luck in this league," tight end Greg Olsen said. "It's funny when you get things rolling and you get confidence and momentum building, things kind of bounce your way."
View game action photos from the Panthers 36-21 win against the Ravens.