The First Win In Carolina Panthers History

The Carolina Panthers came into the NFL as an expansion team in 1995. There were a lot of expectations for the team as the fan base there had been hungry for a franchise for quite some time. Like most expansion teams though, the first season was a bit of a rough one. The Panthers did experience much more success than many franchises did in their first years though.

The team went into week one with a realistic goal of winning the franchise’s first game ever. They were matched up against the Atlanta Falcons and when it was all over, they had lost by just three points, 23-20. Week two against the Bills was not nearly as good as Buffalo topped Carolina 31-9 and the Panthers only gained 113 yards of total offense, their worst total of the whole season. Week three was not much better as the St. Louis Rams beat them 31-10 before heading into their bye week. Week five saw some improvement, holding the Buccaneers to 20 points, but only scoring 13 themselves. The team finally scored decent points in week six but ended up losing to the Chicago Bears 31-27. Week six was special though as the team came out and broke into the win column for the first time ever with a 26-15 win over the visiting New York Jets.

That game started out with Panthers kicker John Kasay hitting a field goal and at the end of the first quarter they were up 3-0. The Jets sacked Panthers quarterback Kerry Collins in the end zone early in the second quarter and then followed that up with a Nick Lowery 50 yard field goal to reach the unusual football score of 5-3. The Jets then scored on an interception return for a touchdown by Mo Lewis to go up 12-3 before John Kasay kicked a field goal and linebacker Sam Mills added an interception returned for a touchdown of his own to give Carolina a 13-12 lead going into halftime. Vince Workman added a 5 yard rushing touchdown in the 3rd quarter to make the score 20-12 and the Panthers would never look back. The 4th quarter would see John Kasay add two field goals of his own for Carolina and Nick Lowery kick one for New York before the final gun sounded and the Panthers were victorious by the score of 26-15. Bubby Brister had been the starting quarterback for the Jets that day and put up a stat line that was not good at all, going 17 of 41 for 143 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. The best performance from Carolina had been turned in by running back Derrick Moore, who though he didn’t score, had carried the ball 21 times for 93 yards.

The Panthers went on to win their next three games, beating the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, and San Francisco 49ers before losing in week 11 to the St. Louis Rams. They would alternate wins and losses the rest of the season, beating the Arizona Cardinals, losing to the Saints, beating the Indianapolis Colts, losing to the 49ers, beating the Falcons, and finally losing to the Washington Redskins. Their final record for the year was 7-9, fairly respectable for an expansion team and a great final record considering they had started out 0-5.

Every team has to win their first game ever at some point. For the Carolina Panthers in 1995, it took waiting almost two months and having the New York Jets come to town.

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