CHARLOTTE – Before every home game, linebacker Thomas Davis utters the same three words: "Defend our dirt."
And the Panthers have gotten pretty good at it.
Carolina's 13-game home winning streak is the longest active streak in the NFL. Last year, the Panthers didn't lose a single game at Bank of America Stadium, including two memorable playoff victories to send them to Super Bowl 50.
"It's about protecting our house. People are realizing that we don't lose at home," defensive end Charles Johnson said. "We take pride in not losing at home."
The Panthers' first chance to defend their dirt comes Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
"The mentality at home is totally different," Davis said. "We understand that this is our turf, this our home, and we don't allow anybody to come in and just take over our territory.
"Our fans do an amazing job when we're home getting behind us and giving us energy every week. It's the reason we've been so successful."
The fans have consistently packed Bank of America Stadium, which will be sold out for the 140th consecutive game Sunday.
But anyone who has been to a Panthers game in recent seasons can attest to the fact that the energy in the stadium has risen to another level. Winning fosters excitement and enthusiasm, and the fans have responded by creating a raucous home atmosphere for the three-time defending NFC South champions.
"Our fan support has been second to none," quarterback Cam Newton said. "We do have the best fans in the league, and I'm not just saying that to blow smoke. This whole environment has changed over the years, and I'm happy to be a part of it."
Home openers are always special. And the reigning NFC Champions can't wait for this one.
"We love our fans, and we need every last one of them. They'll have it jam-packed and will be ready to go," wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. said. "They're a big key to our success. We'll keep playing as hard as we can, and they'll keep cheering as hard as they can. We'll do it together."
View images of players, fans and the atmosphere they create at Bank of America Stadium.