Why the 2003 Super Bowl team deserves more credit
The Carolina Panthers’ 2003 Super Bowl team more than exceeded expectations. They emerged from a tough playoff schedule to take the NFC Championship and deserve a tremendous amount of credit.
This all came in former head coach John Fox’s second campaign with the organization. He installed a solid work ethic that saw them go from 7-9 in 2002 to an NFC South title and the No. 3 seed in the postseason.
The Panthers built around a formidable defensive line that featured Kris Jenkins on the interior alongside prolific edge rusher Mike Rucker. They provided the franchise with a solid foundation that stood them in good stead during a very encouraging season.
Although the Panthers did not have many players that would get you out of your seat on offense. They were ruthlessly efficient and were carried by Pro Bowl running back Stephen Davis. The former Auburn standout rushed for 1,444 yards and eight touchdowns behind a strong offensive line in 2003.
Having the Panthers on this list might be seen as having a detrimental impact on the team’s overall legacy. However, what the roster lacked in flashiness they more than made up for with determination and organization. They also deserve significant praise for coming up with big plays when it mattered most, which is the catalyst behind any successful franchise.
The New England Patriots went on to dominate with multiple rings. Which makes it no disgrace that the Panthers eventually lost to them by a single field goal.
There will always be a case of what might have been regarding their chances in 2003. But that does not take away from what a superb achievement it was to reach the spectacle in the first place.