With the 2013 season in the rear-view mirror, CatCrave.com has football withdrawals at epic levels right now. Training camp is still just under a month away, so why not look back at last season’s schedule and pick out the five greatest games from 2013 for our beloved Carolina Panthers. I need my football fix!
# 5 – Week 7: October 20 vs. St. Louis Rams
The Panthers hobbled back home to Bank of America Stadium with a 2-3 record after a statement win in Minnesota. The game set up to be a “measuring stick” game within the NFC, as St. Louis rolled into town trying to figure out their identity as well with a 3-3 record. This game had fireworks right out of the gates and if you were in attendance, you were treated to a perfect combination of ideal weather, exciting football, entertaining individual battles, and Steve Smith…. being Steve Smith.
The first play of the game was instant excitement as Sam Bradford crumbled under the pressure of our defense, and his pass ended up in the hands of CB Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn caught the gift of a pass with no Rams around him, got up and returned the ball 45-yards to give the Panthers a quick 7-0 lead.
The Bank was rocking just :20 seconds into the game.
Later in the first quarter, our defense struck again as the Rams faced a fourth-and-goal from our 1-yard line. St. Louis gambled rather than go for the easy three points, and failed. Bradford tried to find a receiver in the back of the end zone, but the play was broken up by S Quintin Mikell.
Panthers’ ball at our own 1-yard line.
The Panthers looked to be securely in the drivers seat with the ball, and up 7-0, but the Rams were able to hit the scoreboard with a safety. Mike Tolbert was hit in the endzone and the Rams took the two points, and the ball late in the first quarter.
The defense would strike again causing a fumble, and eventually three points would be added to for Carolina, as they went up 10-2. Later in the quarter, Ted Ginn, Jr. struck on a key third-down play to set up Mike Tolbert’s 1-yard touchdown run and give the Panthers a 17-5 lead at the half.
There was a subtle underlying energy to the game in the first half, as both teams traded blows and a few big plays got the crowd pumped up, as well as deflated. Tavon Austin‘s deep bomb reception appeared to close the lead for St. Louis, but was erased due to a penalty. Our fans went from disappointment, to pleasure as the roller coasted continued on.
Sam Bradford looked uncomfortable all day and the Rams seemed to be holding on by a thread throughout the matchup.
Their defense was young and trying to keep up with containing Cam Newton and keeping Smith and Greg Olsen in check. Bradford was hoping his team’s defense would keep the Panthers’ defense off the field as our boys were giving the ex-Oklahoma Sooner QB headaches all day.
It didn’t take long in the second half before the entertainment portion of our show erupted.
After a play at midfield, some “extended playtime” occurred between Chris Long, Chris Scott, Steve Smith, and a couple of referees. It ended with players being restrained, Chris Long throwing a punch and getting ejected for the game. Yellow laundry was thrown about, teams went back to their respective corners, but this wouldn’t be the last of the altercations.
After the Rams closed the gap to 20-12, the Panthers were driving deep in Rams’ territory, when tempers began to flare again.
Steve Smith and Rams CB Janoris Jenkins extended the play by jawing at each other after Smitty blocked through his man. Jenkins rushed at Smith, and Smitty avoided the contact, but got his fists cocked just in case. They exchanged pleasantries and went back to the huddle.
On the next play, Smitty burned Jenkins on a short crossing route that he turned up field for a touchdown. After the catch, Smitty pulled a nice spin move, juking Jenkins out of his cleats, which allowed Smith to cruise into the end zone. Smith appropriately displayed his excitement to Jenkins in the end zone.
The discussion after the game from Smith didn’t paint Jenkins in the best light and it was a good thing that these two didn’t meet each other in a dark alley later on in the season. Yet again, classic Steve Smith:
Before the game closed with a 30-15 victory for our Panthers, there was more shenanigans and laundry flying on the field.
Safety Mike Mitchell hit Sam Bradford near the sidelines and Rams guard, Harvey Dahl didn’t like the celebration afterwards. Dahl chased after Mitchell, bumped him and was a little too aggressive for the ref’s liking.
The two teams collected around the drama again to ensure nobody got hurt, and then went back to their respective sidelines.
All-in-all, a great day to be a Panther fan at The Bank. Perfect weather, a Panther win, and enough big plays and post-play excitement to keep everyone in the stands. Sorely, Smitty’s antics will be missed this season, but we did have 13-years of archived videos and audio clips to satisfy anyone in need.
Carolina – 30 St. Louis – 15
Coming tomorrow – #4 on the list of Top Panther Games of 2013.