NEW ORLEANS – After the final play of the first half, everyone watching feared the worst.
Did DJ Moore just break his arm? Was his elbow seriously damaged? Was that the last we’d see of him in 2019?
It was a truly scary moment as quarterback Kyle Allen was in trouble and fired a pass to the second-year wide receiver with Carolina looking for a two-point conversion to make it 17-17 going into halftime.
But Allen’s pass was too far in front, and to make matters worse, Moore’s left arm took a direct hit from Saints defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who was breaking on the ball. Moore immediately collapsed to the ground in pain and was carted to the locker room for further evaluation.
It was Moore whose 51-yard touchdown catch on a deep ball in the first quarter got Carolina back into the game against New Orleans. It was Moore who entered the game on the best run of his young career.
“I saw the replay as we were going in,” Allen said, “and it looked gross.”
Keep in mind Moore was already dealing with ankle discomfort after twisting it during a punt return that went wrong due to a collision with safety Rashaan Gaulden in the first quarter.
Thankfully, Moore was back on the sideline with his teammates to start the second half and he made his way back into the game with a protective sleeve on his left arm/elbow.
And he went back to making plays.
“The dude's courageous,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “He stepped up. When we needed him to be out there, he went out there. Hats off to him.”
After the Saints took a 31-18 lead, Moore caught a pass and broke away from multiple defenders for a 52-yard gain to provide a much-needed spark. He kept the chains moving with a 5-yard catch on third-and-3, which set up an eventual touchdown run from Christian McCaffrey.
“For him to come back out there and make that big play in the second half and continue to make plays the whole game, it just speaks volumes,” Allen said. “He played his ass off.”
Added McCaffrey: “Guy takes a hard shot in the arm, we all knew he was hurting but he keeps fighting back and breaks a long one, continues to fight.”
Moore came up clutch to tie the game at 31 in the fourth quarter, he adjusted his route while Allen was buying more time and came down with a 2-yard touchdown grab on fourth-and-goal.
He finished with 126 receiving yards on six receptions with his first ever two-touchdown game in Carolina's gut-wrenching 34-31 defeat. He also walked away some bruises to show for it.
“Unbelievable,” fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuel said of Moore’s performance. “Ankle. Arm. Whatever you want to call it, he played phenomenal. He did everything he could. He put it all out there.”
“He fought,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy added. “You have to be willing to fight. It’s as simple as that. I’m very proud of what he did today. He could have said, ‘You know, my arm...’ But he fought.”
It was Moore’s third 100-yard performance in the last four weeks, and the only outlier was a 95-yard effort. He now has 905 yards on the season, joining only Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad as Panthers with over 900 in the first 11 games of a season.
“He was super impressive,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “We took him where we did (in the first round) for a reason. Has a great attitude, doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body. A really good, young, dynamic player.”
View photos from Week 12 as Carolina visits New Orleans.