5 best individual performances in Carolina Panthers history

(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton
(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Ricky Manning Jr. /

Ricky Manning Jr. – Former Carolina Panthers CB

  • January 18, 2004 at Philadelphia Eagles

The No. 82 overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft, Ricky Manning Jr. proved that you don’t have to be a star player to make an impact in the playoffs.

In the Carolina Panthers’ second NFC championship in franchise history, the rookie cornerback picked off Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb three times in addition to five pass deflections.

Carolina would go on to win the game 14-3 and punch their ticket to a Super Bowl appearance for the young franchise – which was an extraordinary achievement in the circumstances.

The stellar performance by an unsung rookie like Manning Jr. was just another example of the type of team then-head coach John Fox built in Carolina that quickly found success.

One only has to examine the comments from quarterback Jake Delhomme at the time to see how much that particular locker room was all pulling together for the same goal.

"“We don’t have any superstars. We don’t have a lot of egos. We’re just a selfless bunch of guys. We don’t care who gets the credit.”"

Unfortunately, Manning Jr. wasn’t able to find continued success in Carolina and spent only two more seasons with the team followed by stints with the Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, and Oakland Raiders before retiring in 2009.