Athletes from around the world are going for the gold at the Winter Olympics, but the Panthers have already showed their mettle.
The 2017 season produced its share of award-worthy performances. Here's a look at the offense's top moments.
A pivotal game to the Panthers' playoff hopes seemed to be slipping away, but then Cam Newton gave the Vikings the slip.
In Week 12, Minnesota had just completed a fourth-quarter comeback from a 24-13 deficit to tie things up when Newton took matters into his own hands. On a zone read as the two-minute warning fast approached, Newton kept the ball through a nice hole on the left side. He then turned a positive play into an eye-popping one, juking out safety Andrew Sendejo to burst into the open for a 62-yard run that set up the game-winning touchdown. The play also made Newton the first quarterback in NFL history to record two 60-plus-yard runs in the same season.
**Once in the playoffs, a connection between Newton and the Panthers' record-setting rookie kept hope alive and heightened hopes for the future.
In the regular season, Christian McCaffrey amassed 80 receptions - the fourth most by a rookie running back in NFL history. In the playoffs he took his game-changing ability to a different level, running a remarkable route to get open; catching the ball in stride over the middle; then splitting two defenders for a 56-yard touchdown. The late-game score spurred a Panthers rally against the Saints that came up just short in a 31-26 loss.
Damiere Byrd's speed injected life into the Panthers' offense late in the season, but his size – or lack thereof – paid dividends as well.
In another playoffs-pivotal game in Week 15, the Panthers trailed the Packers at halftime but took control with a third-quarter flurry capped by Byrd's first career touchdown reception – but only upon further review. Byrd bobbled the ball in the back of the end zone and was ruled to have come down out of bounds, but a replay review determined that his butt cheek – specifically his left cheek – had come down inbounds. The Panthers were never, well, behind again.
JUST OFF THE PODIUM
Newton had a shorter but no less impressive touchdown run midway through the season, a 9-yard scamper against the Falcons in which he took flight short of the goal line and fought his way through contact to “dunk” the ball over the line. … A similar route to the silver-winning play is worth noting because Newton and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews were caught pre-snap discussing the (inaccurate) notion that Matthews knew what route McCaffrey was running. … In addition to the offensive play of the year, the victory over the Vikings also produced a 60-yard Jonathan Stewart touchdown run that set the tone, a head-over-heels catch by Brenton Bersin and a remarkable backpedaling touchdown strike from Newton to Devin Funchess.
View photos from Carolina's 11-5 campaign in 2017.