The best seasons in Carolina Panthers’ history

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The best seasons in Carolina Panthers’ history

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, attempts a pass Nov. 11 against the Atlanta Falcons. 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Henry Hoegen)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, attempts a pass Nov. 11 against the Atlanta Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Henry Hoegen)

TSgt Kevin Williams

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, attempts a pass Nov. 11 against the Atlanta Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Henry Hoegen)

TSgt Kevin Williams

TSgt Kevin Williams

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, attempts a pass Nov. 11 against the Atlanta Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Henry Hoegen)

Jarod Hamilton, theSCORE Editor

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Since the NFL regular season is three weeks away, let’s take a look at the Carolina Panthers’ best seasons since their beginning in 1995.

 

2005 Panthers

Regular-season record: 11-5

Pro Bowl Selections: 4

Postseason Finish: Lost in Conference Championship

 

The ‘05 Panthers was a mean, defensive team. The team finished third in total defense by allowing only 282.6 yards per game and a pedestrian 91.6 rushing yards per game. 

Despite the top three defense, the only Pro Bowl selection on defense was a future Hall of Famer defensive end, Julius Peppers, who had 10.5 sacks, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles that season. 

Steve Smith became a triple crown winner as a wide receiver which means he led the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. 

They defeated the NFC East champions the New York Giants in a 23-0 shutout on the road in East Rutherford before heading to the Windy City to upset the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher and the Bears.

 

1996 Panthers 

Regular-season record: 12-4

Pro Bowl Selections: 8

Postseason finish: Lost in Conference Championship

 

How many expansion teams do you know that went to the postseason and the conference championship game within five years of their very existence? Probably not many. 

One year after their inaugural season, the Charlotte-based franchise turn the league upside down by winning the NFC West division (they didn’t move to the NFC South division until 2002) and finishing with the 10th best defense in the league. 

They sent eight players to the Pro Bowl which included College Football Hall of Famer and 1996 First-team All-Pro linebacker, Sam Mills, and Pro Football Hall of Famer linebacker, Kevin Greene.

The ‘96 team finished with seven wins to end the regular season, and they beat the defending Super Bowl champions — the Dallas Cowboys — in the Divisional round before losing to the Green Bay Packers. 

   

2003 Panthers 

Regular-season record: 11-5

Pro Bowl Selections: 4

Postseason finish: Lost in Super Bowl

 

The ‘03 Panthers can only be described in two words: Cardiac Cats. 

Quarterback Jake Delhomme developed a good reputation this season as he led five fourth-quarter comeback wins in 2003 as well as EIGHT game-winning drives that season. 

Out of the Panthers 11 wins this season, only three weren’t because of Delhomme’s heroics. 

Unfortunately, Delhomme was snubbed for the Pro Bowl as the NFC was fixed with All-Pro quarterbacks. The Panthers easily defeated the Cowboys before defeating the St. Louis Rams in a double-overtime playoff thriller. They also beat the Philadelphia Eagles on the road, led by Ricky Manning’s three interceptions. 

They ultimately lost a nail-biter Super Bowl game to the New England Patriots, 32-29.

 

2015 Panthers 

Regular-season record: 15-1

Pro Bowl Selections: 10

Postseason finish: Lost in Super Bowl

 

The best team in franchise history goes to the ‘15 Panthers. The team finished with a league-best 15-1 record which has only been done six other times in league history. 

They sent a league-high of 10 players to the Pro Bowl, and eight players made an All-Pro team. Quarterback Cam Newton won league MVP. 

They finished with the sixth-best defense in the league and led the league in scoring at 31 points per game. Their first and only regular-season losses came against division rivals the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 16 matchup in which the Panthers locked up home-field advantage throughout the postseason. 

They would then go on to beat the Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, before coming up short against Von Miller and the Denver Broncos at the Super Bowl. 

 

All stats come via NFL.com.