Three weeks ago, the Carolina Panthers were 5-8 after a road loss to New England, mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, and had Minnesota, the New York Giants and New Orleans remaining on their schedule.
Many would say, well loss, loss, loss - John Fox will be filing for unemployment - the Panthers will draft a quarterback - and the future is not bright for Cardiac Cats.
Then comes Matt Moore - WAIT, WHO?
The Oregon State alum upset Minnesota, crushed the G-Men in their final game at Giants Stadium, thus eliminating them from the playoffs, and finished off the season with a home win over the NFC's #1 seed New Orleans on Sunday.
8-8? Not too shabby for this QB that no one had heard of since his Pac-10 days, and many fans of the Black and Blue could not have told you who he was. Needless to say, he is probably the starter for next season.
Quick hit for you - Moore threw one interception in his five starts, with the lone pick coming in week 13 against Tampa. Not only did he not turn the ball over in his final four games, no one else in a Carolina uniform did either.
Oh, and there is Jonathan Stewart.
Along with Deangelo Williams, the tandem became the first two teammates to both rush for 1,100+ yards in the same season. Stewarts carried for 1,135 and Williams for 1,117.
Scary, huh? They will back next season too.
Protection was great down the stretch, to help not turning the ball over, and the defensive line stepped up, forcing pressure on the QB and not allowing much running room.
The team was on the same page, unfortunately a little too late, but like everyone always says, "There's always next year."
Not only will I concur with the most common sentence in the sports universe, I believe in it. The NFL slogan was "Believe in Now." They did believe the final month of the season.
But next year, I believe - I believe the Panthers will not only be back on top of the NFC South, but they will be representing the NFC in the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas at Cowboys Stadium.
With a QB in Matt Moore that the team and the fans believe in and a 2-back tandem that no one can stop, and a defense that can be a nightmare (assuming Peppers returns *crossing fingers*), who can stop them.
Playoff participants this year couldn't when the team had nothing to play for but pride.
BEWARE OF MATT MOORE AND THE PANTHERS IN 2010-11!!!!