The Carolina Panthers’ 2009 campaign ended with a little hope and promise, yet a hint of uncertainty going into the offseason.
In some respects it was a strange season. In others, it was aggravating and typical, following a winning season. In the end, the Panthers managed to pull together and avoid a sixth 7-9 season under head coach John Fox, with their win over the Division Champion New Orleans Saints.
To the topic at hand, I asked you what your most memorable highlight was during the Panthers’ 2009 season?
Living in New Jersey, I am limited to the number of Panthers games I am able to see, although I have discovered I can watch games in their entirety through the NFL’s website on NFL Rewind, which is a subscriber service they offer.
This season I made it to two Panthers home games. The first one–aside from having a great time with my brother and a cool weekend trip to Charlotte–I’d rather forget.
It was Week One against the Philiadelphia Eagles. About the only good highlight I can recall from that game was the Panthers’ opening drive, which ended in a DeAngelo Williams touchdown from the Red Zone.
The memory I took from the game was a sunburn and a sweat-soaked Panthers jersey. While the sunburn went away, the sweat is still slightly stained in the jersey.
The other game I was able to attend was the Week 17 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. I had an interesting time getting there from my Mother’s house near Asheville, NC. That’s a story for another time, however.
It was my first time seeing the Panthers live in a division game, and I could only hope that the success from the prior two weeks, would carry over into the season finale.
A lot was riding on this game for Carolina, even though they were out of playoff contention.
A win would give the Panthers a final record of 8-8.
In Week 16 at the New York Giants, Jonathan Stewart surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. That made the carolina Panthers the sixth team in NFL history, to have two running backs carry the ball for more than 1,000 yards each in a season.
But there was still one week left to be played, and Stewart had the chance to write it.
Approximately 92 yards would give Jonathan Stewart 1,100 yards rushing on the season, but there’s more to that. Fellow running back DeAngelo Williams had already run for 1,100 yards just before sustaining an injury which wound up sidelining him for the few remaining weeks of the Panthers’ 2009 season.
Stewart ran the ball for over 110 yards. He surpassed 1,100 rushing yards on the season, which made him and DeAngelo Williams the first running back tandem in NFL history, to have 1,100 yards rushing each, in a season.
History was made. I was priveleged to bear witness to that.
There were the usual (though not as usual this season) acrobatic endzone catches by receiver Steve Smith.
Also, Dwayne Jarrett scored his first touchdown of the regular season against the Saints.
On defense, there was the strong showing by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, until he sustained a season-ending injury.
Defensive end Julius Peppers had a productive, albeit quiet, season as well.
My favorite moment of the season was the historical one. It was also the first Panthers game I’ve attended when Carolina won. My favorite highlight of the season was actually two within the same game.
On the second play of the Panthers’ first drive, Jonathan Stewart started to run left out of the backfield, then cut hard right, almost in a horizontal motion. He found a gap, took off, and ran the ball for a 67-yard touchdown.
My second memorable highlight from 2009, maybe even Panthers’ history (since I was in attendance), was when Stewart carried the ball for over 1,100 yards, to give the Panthers the lone record of having two stud running backs with 1,100 rushing yard records each in a season.
As a fan I am proud of some of the small things the Panthers accomplished this season.
Please share in the comment section what your memorable Panthers highlight or highlights from 2009 was.