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Top three plays on offense from 2017
February 12, 2018 02:00 PM | Bryan Strickland
Athletes from around the world are going for the gold at the Winter Olympics, but the Panthers have already showed their mettle.

The 2017 season produced its share of award-worthy performances. Here's a look at the offense's top moments.

GOLD

A pivotal game to the Panthers' playoff hopes seemed to be slipping away, but then Cam Newton gave the Vikings the slip.

In Week 12, Minnesota had just completed a fourth-quarter comeback from a 24-13 deficit to tie things up when Newton took matters into his own hands. On a zone read as the two-minute warning fast approached, Newton kept the ball through a nice hole on the left side. He then turned a positive play into an eye-popping one, juking out safety Andrew Sendejo to burst into the open for a 62-yard run that set up the game-winning touchdown. The play also made Newton the first quarterback in NFL history to record two 60-plus-yard runs in the same season.

SILVER
Once in the playoffs, a connection between Newton and the Panthers' record-setting rookie kept hope alive and heightened hopes for the future.

In the regular season, Christian McCaffrey became the first rookie running back in NFL history to amass 80 receptions and five receiving touchdowns. In the playoffs he took his game-changing ability to a different level, running a remarkable route to get open; catching the ball in stride over the middle; then splitting two defenders for a 56-yard touchdown. The late-game score spurred a Panthers rally against the Saints that came up just short in a 31-26 loss.

BRONZE

Damiere Byrd's speed injected life into the Panthers' offense late in the season, but his size - or lack thereof - paid dividends as well.

In another playoffs-pivotal game in Week 15, the Panthers trailed the Packers at halftime but took control with a third-quarter flurry capped by Byrd's first career touchdown reception - but only upon further review. Byrd bobbled the ball in the back of the end zone and was ruled to have come down out of bounds, but a replay review determined that his butt cheek - specifically his left cheek - had come down inbounds. The Panthers were never, well, behind again.

JUST OFF THE PODIUM

Newton had a shorter but no less impressive touchdown run midway through the season, a 9-yard scamper against the Falcons in which he took flight short of the goal line and fought his way through contact to "dunk" the ball over the line. ... A similar route to the silver-winning play is worth noting because Newton and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews were caught pre-snap discussing the (inaccurate) notion that Matthews knew what route McCaffrey was running. ... In addition to the offensive play of the year, the victory over the Vikings also produced a 60-yard Jonathan Stewart touchdown run that set the tone, a head-over-heels catch by Brenton Bersin and a remarkable backpedaling touchdown strike from Newton to Devin Funchess.



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