5 greatest moments in Carolina Panthers history ahead of 2021 season

(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Steve Smith and Jake Delhomme
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Steve Smith and Jake Delhomme /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Muhsin Muhammad /

Carolina Panthers WR Muhsin Muhammad’s 85-yard TD reception

Before there was Cam Newton, there was Jake Delhomme.

Before there was Steve Smith, there was Muhsin Muhammad.

And before the Carolina Panthers reached Super Bowl 50 they reached Super Bowl XXXVIII.

It was in that first title game that Delhomme and Muhammad hooked up for what remains the longest touchdown pass in Super Bowl history.

The 2003 Panthers were a surprise few saw coming, but remain one of the best teams in the franchise’s young history. Leading up to 2003, hardly anyone expected much of John Fox’s team.

Over the previous two seasons, Carolina had managed only eight wins and finished last in the division both years. Heck, Delhomme was a 28-year-old former undrafted player who had not started an NFL game in the 21st century and lost the starting job in training camp to Rodney Peete.

No one could have guessed Carolina would go 11-5 in the regular season, much less knock off the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, and Philadelphia Eagles in the postseason.

They would ultimately fall just short of winning the Super Bowl, but original Panthers fans remember the incredible run like yesterday – including Muhammad’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXVIII.

In what is still one of the most iconic moments in team history, Muhammad lined up wide to the left before weaving past Ty Law and Eugene Wilson to get open deep downfield. After moving through his first and second reads, Delhomme caught glimpse of Moose running free and unloaded a strike to his veteran wide receiver.

Muhammad caught the ball in stride and shrugged off Wilson’s attempt at a tackle to high-step into the end zone. At 85 yards, the touchdown connection was (and still is) the longest touchdown pass in Super Bowl history.

It gave the Panthers the lead with just under seven minutes to play and seemed to potentially be the game-winning play.

Unfortunately, a young Tom Brady and the New England Patriots would crush Carolina’s hopes for a first title just a few drives later, despite an outstanding performance from Delhomme,