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
(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) Luke Kuechly /

Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly’s pick-six in the NFC Championship

If the 2003 campaign had been the team’s greatest prior to 2015, the latter definitely surpassed that in terms of excitement, wins, and swagger.

Just like in 2003 though, the 2015 Carolina Panthers began the season nowhere near the top of the “contenders” list. Sure they had won the division the two years before, but in 2014 they did it with a losing record.

With that being said though, it didn’t take long for Carolina to show how good they were, getting off to a blazing hot 14-0 start, losing just one regular-season game, and breezing through the NFC playoffs and into the franchise’s second Super Bowl.

Cam Newton’s MVP season no doubt was central to the team’s success. But just as important was the play of the game’s best linebacker in Luke Kuechly.

In his fourth year as a pro, Kuechly was the anchor to one of the league’s best defenses and was on a Pro Football Hall of Fame trajectory.

Kuechly recorded a career-high six interceptions in the 2015 season and postseason, including his first career pick-six on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. However, he would save his biggest interception for his home crowd two months later.

With a victory in the NFC Championship game essentially locked up, Kuechly left no fourth-quarter doubts about it, picking off a Carson Palmer pass and returning it a short distance into the end zone to give the Panthers a dominating 49-15 win.

Carolina’s ticket to Super Bowl 50 was already punched before Kuechly’s big play. But his pick-six served as a climatic nail-in-the-coffin moment in front of the home fans.

Looking back now, especially knowing how the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos went, it’s easy to forget the exhilarating ending to the conference championship, but that shouldn’t take away from the greatness of that moment and play.

The stadium was rocking, the fans were smiling and the team appeared poised to win the biggest game in all of football. Of course, that last part didn’t happen, but boy did Luke make us feel confident it would.