McKinney: Quick Hitter
Hard to believe it was 18 years ago today the Carolina Panthers broke into the regular-season win column for the first time in franchise history.
On Oct. 15, 1995, the expansion Panthers grounded the New York Jets 26-15 at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
You’ll recall the current stadium in Charlotte was still under construction, so that forced the Panthers to borrow the Tigers’ home field at Death Valley for the ‘95 season.
After an 0-5 start, Carolina hit its stride against the New Yorkers.
Linebacker Sam Mills returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown, while Vince Workman added a 5-yard TD run and John Kasay kicked four field goals.
Derrick Moore led the Panther ground attack with 93 yards on 21 carries.
That victory over the Jets kick-started the Panthers inaugural campaign. Carolina won seven of its final 11 games. Head coach Dom Capers’ Panthers became the first expansion team in NFL history to record a four-game regular-season winning streak.
Those seven wins shattered the previous record for most victories by an expansion club in its first season (three by five different franchises). The expansion Jacksonville Jaguars finished 4-12 in 1995.
Of course, things got even better for the Panthers in season two. The club went 12-4, won the NFC West crown and reached the NFC title game, falling at Green Bay.
But it all really got rolling on a mid-October afternoon in Clemson, S.C.
— Mark McKinney
ENTERPRISE SPORTS EDITOR