CHARLOTTE – After celebrating on the NFC Championship stage with confetti raining down on him, linebacker Thomas Davis saluted the crowd and ducked into the tunnel toward the locker room.
Then he let out a roar.
It was the sound of an 11-year veteran releasing the emotion from an emotional night.
Davis was flying in the first half. By the midway point of the second quarter he had already compiled six tackles, two of which he made behind the line of scrimmage.
But tight end Darren Fells went airborne and collided with Davis with 7:12 remaining in the second quarter. And that was the final play of the night for Davis.
When Carolina's captain emerged from the locker room, his right arm was in a cast and sling.
"It was extremely difficult, but I knew the guys that were in the game were going to get the job done," said Davis, who told reporters he broke his arm. "They didn't let me down."
Linebacker Luke Kuechly led a dominant defensive effort despite his running mate's absence.
"We had his back, and he's one of my best friends on the team," Kuechly said. "It feels good to go out there and win a game for Thomas because of how much he's meant to me."
Davis has a well-earned reputation as one of the toughest players in the NFL. And the man who came back from three consecutive torn ACLs in the same knee isn't about to let a broken arm keep him from playing in his first Super Bowl.
"I got two weeks to heal up, and I'm going to use every minute of that," Davis said. "Come on, you know me right? I ain't missing the Super Bowl, you better believe that."
Said head coach Ron Rivera: "If he says he will be ready, I know he will be ready."
View game action photos from Carolina's 49-15 win over Arizona in the NFC Championship.