My original idea was simple: Name the top five trick plays in Carolina Panthers history. The subject seemed perfect for the summer —the days between the last OTA and training camp. It’s the month and a half that slow burns with anticipation for another season, and a great time to reflect on the glory (and goats) of the past. Right off the bat, I realized I had a problem: There are hardly any memorable trick plays in this organization’s history. There were a few fake punts and field goals (mostly forgettable), and the occasional reverse. But for the most part, Panthers football has had all the flair of an insurance office. Clearly, I had to expand my search criteria. (Either that, or wait another year of Chuds and Cam working together.)
I had to first acknowledge I was bound to leave something out. Pro Football Reference does not track trick plays. I would have to rely on my memory, my friends’ memories and anything I could dig up online. Next, I had to include not just "trick" plays, but any play that was so out of the norm that it made Panthers’ fans do a double take. One more thing: Not all these plays had to be successful to be considered. Even after casting a wider net, it was still difficult to come up with a definitive list. One Panther fan I talked to suggested I include the trick Marty Hurney played on Panther fans when Jimmy Clausen was drafted. As tempted as it was to include it, I had to limit myself to plays that actually occurred during a game. I was able to create a list of five plays--view them after the break. I know that someone out there can add a few more to the list.
The Top Five Wrinkle-in-Time, Blue Moon, Tricked-Out Play Calls in Panthers History
1) The Annexation of Puerto Rico, 2011, Week 15
|2Q||0:59||2d||6||HTX 7||Richie Brockel left end for 7 yards, touchdown|
The coolest trick play in Panthers history deserves the coolest name, even though it was taken from the movie "Little Giants." Cam takes the snap, hands the ball through the legs of Richie Brockel, spins around and runs to the right. The rest of the team stands still, then takes off once Brockel begins running to the left.He scores, giving the the Panthers a 21-0 first half lead over the Texans and stunning the perplexed crowd. It’s the crown jewel of Panthers trick plays, so brilliantly conceived and executed, no other play comes close.Bonus info: The play was actually a variation of the Fumblerooski, a play that in its original form, was banned in the NFL in the 1960s.
2) Return of the Wildcat, 2006 Week 16
|1||10:25||1||10||CAR 27||DeShaun Foster right tackle for 9 yards (tackle by Keith Brooking)||0||3||0.74||1.41|
|1||9:49||2||1||CAR 36||DeShaun Foster up the middle for 1 yard (tackle by Grady Jackson)||0||3||1.41||1.4|
|1||9:07||1||10||CAR 37||Penalty on Jordan Gross: False Start, 5 yards (no play)||0||3||1.4||1.07|
|1||9:07||1||15||CAR 32||DeAngelo Williams left end for 6 yards (tackle by Lawyer Milloy)||0||3||1.07||0.99|
|1||8:27||2||9||CAR 38||DeAngelo Williams right end for 10 yards (tackle by Jimmy F. Williams)||0||3||0.99||2.13|
|1||7:45||1||10||CAR 48||DeShaun Foster up the middle for 6 yards (tackle by Ed Hartwell and Roderick Coleman)||0||3||2.13||2.39|
|1||7:04||2||4||ATL 46||DeShaun Foster right end for 4 yards (tackle by Ike Reese)||0||3||2.39||2.79|
|1||6:20||1||10||ATL 42||DeAngelo Williams right tackle for 9 yards (tackle by Keith Brooking and Lawyer Milloy)||0||3||2.79||3.46|
|1||5:39||2||1||ATL 33||DeAngelo Williams up the middle for 5 yards (tackle by Ike Reese)||0||3||3.46||3.71|
|1||4:59||1||10||ATL 28||DeShaun Foster left end for 5 yards (tackle by Ed Hartwell and Keith Brooking)||0||3||3.71||3.84|
|1||4:17||2||5||ATL 23||DeShaun Foster left tackle for 4 yards (tackle by Paul Carrington)||0||3||3.84||3.72|
|1||3:41||3||1||ATL 19||DeAngelo Williams right end for 6 yards (tackle by Chauncey Davis)||0||3||3.72||4.71|
|1||2:58||1||10||ATL 13||DeAngelo Williams up the middle for 4 yards (tackle by Ed Hartwell)||0||3||4.71||4.77|
|1||2:17||2||6||ATL 9||Chris Weinke pass complete short right to DeShaun Foster for 5 yards (tackle by Ed Hartwell)|
The Panthers had problems at QB in 2006. Jake Delhomme was out, and Chris Weinke proved ineffective. In what was perhaps the most brilliant move of OC Dan Henning’s career, he all but abandoned the QB position in week 16, and instead lined up the running back at the QB position, effectively skipping the middleman.
On the first possession of the game, rookie DeAngelo WIlliams was inserted in the shotgun position. The Panthers would run what would be called the "Wildcat" on many of the 12 straight running plays of their first drive, leading to an eventual touchdown (ironically, a TD pass thrown by Weinke). They ran the ball 52 times that game and passed seven times, both Panther records. The Panthers won the game, and fans actually had a new-found, albeit short-lived respect for Henning. Bonus info: DeAngelo was not the Panthers leading rusher for the game. That honor went to DeShaun Foster.
3) Chris Gamble’s botched lateral on a punt return, 2006 Week 2
|4||10:05||4||19||MIN 7||Chris Kluwe punts 53 yards, returned by Chris Gamble for -2 yards. Chris Gamble fumbles, recovered by Jason Glenn at CAR-21|
Not all trick plays are good. In 2006, the Panthers were leading the Vikings 13-6 in the fourth quarter. It’s fourth down, and the Vikings punt from their own 7-yard line to Chris Gamble. The game looks like a sure win. But in 2006, it wasn’t meant to be. Gamble catches the punt, turns and throws a lateral across the field. Richard Marshall fumbles the one-hopper, the Vikings recover and go on to win the game. In retrospect, that one botched play seemed to typify the entire season. Bonus info: To make matters worse, The Vikings faked a field goal and kicker Ryan Longwell threw a touchdown pass. Double Doh!
4) Beuerlein’s sneaky sneak, 1999 Week 14
|4Q||0.05||4th||5||GB 5||Steve Beuerlein runs up the middle for 5 yards (touchdown)|
Steve Beuerlein gave the Panthers some of the best QB play in the team’s history. But it was a cold day in December that Beuerlein forever cemented his legend for the Carolina Panthers. Trailing by 31-27 to a Green Bay team that had not lost at home since 1993, Beuerlein pulled the ultimate trick play. WIth just five seconds left in the game and on the GB five yard line, Beuerlein ran the ball up the middle, squeezing his way into the endzone for the win. Bonus info: Rumor has it that when Beuerlein called the play in the huddle his offense laughed at him before they realized he was serious.
5) Cam Catches a pass, 2011 Week 13
|1Q||7:36||1st||10||TAM 29||Legedu Naanee pass complete short left to Cam Newton for 27 yards (tackle by Ronde Barber)|
it’s 1st and 10, the perfect time for a trick play. Legedu Naanee completes a 27 yard pass to Cam Newton who was flared out to the left. Panthers win 38-19. It was the type of play that was made even more satisfying because it stuck a dagger into Bucs fans in just the first quarter: They knew how the game would end, and they knew we had Cam and they had Josh Freeman. Bonus info: Cam is not the first QB in Panthers history to catch a pass. Damien Craig caught two passes in his career,and Kerry Collins caught one for minus-11 yards.