LANDOVER, Md. – When the Panthers entered FedExField and settled into their lockers, they were informed of Sunday's unique pre-game festivities.
Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams looked down at the Redskins Game Day magazine in his stall and saw the word "Homecoming" on the cover. The Redskins were honoring alumni prior to the game and during halftime.
"I'm thinking to myself, 'This is the National Football League. Are you serious? Homecoming? It's not like they tried to hide it,'" Williams said. "(They) blatantly put it on the front of the Game Day."
Williams' understanding of homecoming games stems from his college football experiences. Often times, college programs schedule homecoming weekend when they're confident alumni will be treated to a victory.
"In college, it's one of those teams that's just terrible," Williams recalled. "You don't book a good team for homecoming."
Added defensive end Greg Hardy: "We saw the little pamphlet. They decided to make us homecoming. We felt disrespected."
Williams said he voiced his displeasure to his teammates before the team took the field.
If the Panthers were serving as the homecoming opponent, the running back wanted to make sure they were the ones celebrating when the game was over.
"I brought it up," said Williams, who scored the game's first touchdown on a 30-yard run in the first quarter. "That was definitely motivating."
The Panthers didn't need any added motivation as they looked to end their five-game losing streak. But knowledge of the homecoming events provided a little extra.
"It was their homecoming, which was kind of embarrassing for us to be in, and that was a challenge," quarterback Cam Newton said. "Some of the guys took that and put it as a chip on their shoulder to play harder."
The Panthers put together an inspired, physical performance and ultimately flew home with their first road victory of the season.
"We've hung together as a team," Williams said, "and we're going to continue to fight as a team."