4 times the Carolina Panthers made us proud throughout history

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Steve Smith
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Steve Smith /
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Winslow Oliver, Carolina Panthers
(Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport) Winslow Oliver /

Carolina Panthers Moment No. 1: A first playoff win (1996, Dallas)

Across the short history of the Carolina Panthers, there aren’t many games that had a more exciting buildup than this one. Two of the highest-scoring offenses in the league faced off in the 1996 playoffs when the reigning Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys came to Ericsson Stadium looking to march one step closer to winning their fourth title in five seasons.

Even though the Cowboys were facing an expansion team that was only in their second season, Carolina was undefeated at home in 1996. They ended up winning seven straight to cap off the regular season and came into the playoff firing on all cylinders.

The Panthers were on a hot streak and peaked at the right time. This culminated in the team’s first division title, winning the NFC West with a 12-4 record.

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Their offense was anchored by quarterback Kerry Collins and Panthers’ Hall of Honor tight end Wesley Walls. An imposing defense featured legend Sam Mills and Hall of Famer Kevin Greene.

All four were productive on the night, leading to a 27-16 win. John Kasay, the longest-tenured player in franchise history, also played a pivotal role.

The prolific kicker was on target on all four field-goal attempts, including a 32-yard success to ice the game with 3:44 remaining in the 4th quarter.

The Panthers defense was relentless, holding Troy Aikman to 165 yards on 18 completions, with only one touchdown and three interceptions.

The Cowboys’ star trio of Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin were all dramatically slowed down from their 40-point showing against the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round, as the defending champions only scored one touchdown and never led at any point of the game.

Mills capped off the historic night by picking off Aikman’s final pass and nearly scoring on a 30-yard return. This enabled the Panthers to run the clock out to claim their first-ever playoff victory.