Carolina Panthers History

Carolina Panthers - Team History

Carolina Panthers, professional football team and one of five teams in the Western Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take affect in 2002, the Panthers will play in the South Division of the NFC. The Panthers play at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and wear uniforms of black, blue, and silver.

During the 1996 season the Panthers won their division and qualified for the playoffs. It was only their second year of existence, and this was the earliest an NFL expansion team had ever encountered such success. During the previous year, the team won seven games—the most ever by an NFL expansion team.

In 1993 Panthers founder and owner Jerry Richardson was awarded the first new NFL franchise since 1976, when the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had joined the league. Two years later, Carolina and fellow expansion team Jacksonville Jaguars began play. Former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach Dom Capers was named the Panthers’ first head coach.

After losing the first 5 games of the 1995 season, Carolina won 7 of its last 11 games behind wide receivers Mark Carrier and Willie Green. During the season the Panthers defeated the San Francisco 49ers to become the first expansion team ever to beat a defending league champion.

In 1996 the Panthers stunned the NFL by winning 12 games and capturing the NFC Western Division title. Quarterback Kerry Collins and running back Anthony Johnson anchored the offense. Carolina put together the second-best defense in the NFC, featuring three Pro Bowl linebackers: Kevin Greene, Lamar Lathon, and Sam Mills. Michael Bates was the league’s top kickoff returner, averaging 30.2 yards per return. Placekicker John Kasay led the league in scoring, converting on a league-record 37 field goals. Capers was named coach of the year. After capturing the division title, Carolina defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs before losing the NFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers.

The franchise experienced its worst year ever in 2001 when it went 1-15 and lost 15 consecutive games, an NFL record. A turnaround came quickly, however. In 2003, under head coach John Fox, the team finished the regular season 11-5 and qualified for the playoffs as the winner of the NFC’s South Division. During the regular season and in the playoffs, the Panthers won several come-from-behind games. They advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII and appeared on the verge of another comeback when they tied the New England Patriots with about one minute left to play. The Patriots kicked a field goal with about four seconds left and won the game in one of the most dramatic finishes in Super Bowl history.

2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII Lost to New England Patriots, 32-29

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