Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Best and worst Panther season openers ever

Cam Newton is 0-2 on opening day for the Panthers, although in each case he has passed for more than 300 yards.

My column for Wednesday's newspaper will be on the historical importance of Opening Day to the Panthers. Did you realize Carolina is 6-12 all-time in season openers, and that their winning percentage of .333 ranks dead last among the 32 NFL teams?

Looking back at their 18 previous openers before Sunday's home game against Seattle, there have been so many Sundays filled with promise that turned into duds (including the last four in a row). I have picked my three best and three worst Panther openers out of this list of 18. Scan it and tell me which one you think was the best and/or worst either in the comments section or an email to sfowler@charlotteobserver.com. I'll reveal my picks in the column and will also post them in this blog entry once the column is online. (UPDATE: Here's the full column -- I picked 2003, 2008 and 1996 as the best openers and 2004, 2009 and 2012 as the worst).

One additional note I discovered: When Carolina has won its season opener, the Panthers have made the playoffs 50 percent of the time. When the Panthers lose it, they have made the playoffs only eight percent of the time.

1995 -- Atlanta 23, Carolina 20 (OT)

1996 -- Carolina 29, Atlanta 6

1997 -- Washington 24, Carolina 10

1998 -- Atlanta 19, Carolina 14

1999 -- New Orleans 19, Carolina 10

2000 -- Washington 20, Carolina 17

2001 -- Carolina 24, Minnesota 13

2002 -- Carolina 10, Baltimore 7

2003 -- Carolina 24, Jacksonville 23

2004 -- Green Bay 24, Carolina 14

2005 -- New Orleans 23, Carolina 20

2006 -- Atlanta 20, Carolina 6

2007 -- Carolina 27, St. Louis 13

2008 -- Carolina 26, San Diego 24

2009 -- Philadelphia 38, Carolina 10

2010 -- New York Giants 31, Carolina 18

2011 -- Arizona 28, Carolina 21

2012 -- Tampa Bay 16, Carolina 10


Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, the 2003 opener is the greatest in Panther history. Rodney Peete giving way to some back-up that we picked up from the Saints...and the rest of the season was magic. That opener was a thrill ride that we rode until the Super Bowl.

As for the worst, I'd argue that the 2001 opener was our worst - even though Carolina won. As our only win, it grew sadder and sadder each week as we realized that it was fool's gold, and that George Seifert was not our franchise savior. On the plus side, we were introduced to a guy named Steve Smith...

Zon said...

Best I would say: 1) 2003-The quarterback switch to Jake and the last second come from behind win to start a NFC Championship season should be in a hall of honor somewhere.

2) 2008: Again, last second win with a touchdown pass.

3) 1998: It was against Atlanta

Worst? I have no idea, I tend to forget those.

Robert Hunt said...

2003 - CAR 24, JAX 23
1996 - CAR 29, ATL 6
2008 - CAR 26, SD 24

2009 - PHI 38, CAR 10
2004 - GB 24, CAR 14
1997 - WAS 24, CAR 10

Steve said...

#1 has to be that game against Jaguars in 2003. We were getting killed and in comes Jake Delhomme and brings us all the way back in the second half, which began a season of the Cardiac Cats all the way to Super Bowl.

Anonymous said...

Tom looking at home & away openers, the Panthers are 3 & 5 at home while 3 & 7 on the road. It still leaves them at 6 & 12 overall but keep in mind they've played 10 of 18 on the road and none since 2009 meaning this will be Cam's first season opener at home...

Seth said...

One of the best openers is definitely 2008. Without Smith in that game, Delhomme still managed to find a way to win. And that last second win led to an even better, I emphasize, regular season than many expected.

Anonymous said...

Panthers need to win their first game against Seattle to set the tone for the year. I'm just saying!

Anonymous said...

Best - 2003 over Jacksonville started a magical season, 2008 over San Diego on last second play was another great one. 1996 - Don't really remember this but beating down Atlanta at any time is good.

Worst - 2008 - Philadelphia beat down at home was awful, goodbye Jake. 2004 against Green Bay when Smitty broke his leg and missed whole season. We were Super Bowl favorites that year until then. 2012 - A season of promise begins with a loss to the Bucs? Are you serious!

Terence said...

That Arizona loss with Patrick Peterson running the kick back was the most painful opening loss. If memory serves me correctly, we didn't have Colin Jones, Nakamura, and some of our other more trustworthy special teamers out there at the time.

Kim said...

2009 loss to the Eagles was awful. I lost $20 on that game. 2008 win was awesome, last second pass to Dante Rosario - the headline in the CO the next day - "They're baaack!"

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

Anonymous said...

Best opening game ever has to be 2013 when the Panthers beat the Seahawks 28-3.

Worst ever? who cares

Willy Loman said...

I am putting a 6-figure bet on the Panthers. Seattle favored. There is NO WAY the Panthers lose to the Seahawks. Book it.

Anonymous said...

Best and worst - Panther's first ever 1995 opener at Atlanta. My wife and I and a few friends from NC made the trip. Expectations were low, but excitement sky high as (North) Carolina had finally arrived to the NFL. Regardless of outcome, this was clearly the "best" season opener in the history of the Carolina Panthers. But unfortunately my wife was not a big football fan, and with Carolina trailing 20-13 late in the fourth quarter, I finally yielded to my wife's insistence that we leave early and "beat the crowd" out of the stadiium. As we got onto the MARTA train, a gentleman with a portable radio suddenly yelled "touchdown Carolina", and after a few more minutes he yells again "Carolina is going for two, they're going for two, they're going for the win". I'm sure in that moment the glare I gave my sweet wife could have burned in seconds, a hole the size of Texas in Antarctica. Sadly the attempt for two was set back by a false start penalty against the Panthers, who then jsettled to tie at 20-20, and went on to lose in OT 23-20. But missing the exciting end makes this also my "worst" season opener in Panthers' history

Anonymous said...

Guess who will be 0-3! lol

Anonymous said...

The best for me was the victory against the Vikings in 2001, though mainly for very personal reasons.

I was a Panthers fan growing up in Minnesota and that was the first Panthers game I ever had the pleasure of attending - my dad took me as a birthday gift.

We were up in the nosebleeds of the hideous Dome but I didn't care, I was so excited; it was opening day and I was finally going to get to see my favorite team!

The only other Carolina fans I could see around me were Chris Weinke's family (he's from St. Paul), who were holding up a sign with a picture of him at FSU that read: "We love the Vikings, but family comes first - Go Chris!"

I watched on wide-eyed as the opening kick-off sailed through the air and remembered reading some post-draft recap about how this Steve Smith guy was supposed to be a good kick returner. I couldn't believe my eyes as he weaved through the Vikings all the way to the endzone. It seemed too good to be true, the opening touch of his career, the opening play of the season, the first play I'd ever seen in person, a touchdown!

(and in retrospect that fact that I'm one of the very few Panther fans who was able to see Smitty's first play and game live makes it even more special)

I cheered so loudly my dad whispered to me to quiet down so the surrounding fans wouldn't get angry. Though of course it just got better from there as Moose tore up the secondary and we cruised to victory.

I listened to radio call-in shows with befuddled Vikings fans the whole way home. Later I read every recap and watched every highlight reel. They were supposed to be the dominant offense, we were mediocre with a rookie QB. And while it turned out to be the worst season in team history, that day it seemed like the sky was the limit.