1996 Carolina Panthers season
Head Coach Dom Capers
General Manager Bill Polian
Home Field Ericsson Stadium
Record 12–4
Place 1st NFC West
Playoff Finish W Divisional Playoffs
(Cowboys) 26–17
L Conference Championship
(Packers) 30–13
Previous Season Next Season
1995 1997

The 1996 Carolina Panthers season was the second season for the team in the National Football League. They tried to improve upon their 7–9 record in 1995, and make it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

The Panthers would be a huge surprise, as it would turn out, as the Panthers won their last seven games of the season[1] to finish the season with a 12–4 record. The result was that the Panthers won the NFC West, and had a first round bye in the 1996–97 NFL Playoffs. The Panthers would then beat the Dallas Cowboys 26–17 before falling 30–13 to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.

Offseason[edit | edit source]

Unrestricted Free Agents Signed:

Unrestricted Free Agents Lost:

NFL Draft[edit | edit source]

Round Pick Name Position College
1 8 Tim Biakabutuka Running Back Michigan
2 43 Muhsin Muhammad Wide Receiver Michigan State
3 73 Winslow Oliver Running Back New Mexico
3 88 J. C. Price Defensive Tackle Virginia Tech
4 104 Norberto Garrido Guard USC
4 111 Emmanuel McDaniel Defensive back East Carolina
5 142 Marquette Smith Running back Central Florida
6 193 Scott Greene Running back Michigan State
7 217 Donnell Baker Wide receiver Southern
7 234 Kerry Hicks Defensive tackle Colorado

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Staff[edit | edit source]

1996 Carolina Panthers final staff
Front Office

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches

  Defensive Coaches

Special Teams Coaches

Strength and Conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Chip Morton
  • Strength and Conditioning Assistant – Greg Roman


Roster[edit | edit source]

1996 Carolina Panthers final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
Active, Inactive, Practice squad

Schedule[edit | edit source]

Regular season[edit | edit source]

Week Date Opponent Results Game site Attendance
Score Record
1 September 1 Atlanta W 29–6 1–0 Ericsson Stadium
2 September 8 at New Orleans W 22–20 2–0 Louisiana Superdome
3 Bye week
4 September 22 San Francisco W 23–7 3–0 Ericsson Stadium
5 September 29 at Jacksonville L 14–24 3–1 Jacksonville Stadium
6 October 6 at Minnesota L 12–14 3–2 Metrodome
7 October 13 St. Louis W 45–13 4–2 Ericsson Stadium
8 October 20 New Orleans W 19–7 5–2 Ericsson Stadium
9 October 27 at Philadelphia L 9–20 5–3 Veterans Stadium
10 November 3 at Atlanta L 17–20 5–4 Georgia Dome
11 November 10 NY Giants W 27–17 6–4 Ericsson Stadium
12 November 17 at St. Louis W 20–10 7–4 Trans World Dome
13 November 24 at Houston W 31–6 8–4 Astrodome
14 December 1 Tampa Bay W 24–0 9–4 Ericsson Stadium
15 December 8 at San Francisco W 30–24 10–4 Candlestick Park
16 December 15 Baltimore W 27–16 11–4 Ericsson Stadium
17 December 22 Pittsburgh W 18–14 12–4 Ericsson Stadium
NOTE: Division games are in bold text.

Postseason[edit | edit source]

Week Date Opponent Results Game site Attendance
Score Record
Wild Card Bye
Divisional January 5 Dallas W 26–17 13–4 Ericsson Stadium
Conference January 12 Green Bay L 13–30 13–5 Lambeau Field

Standings[edit | edit source]

Template:1996 NFC West standings

Regular season results[edit | edit source]

Week 1: vs. Atlanta Falcons[edit | edit source]

Week 2: at New Orleans Saints[edit | edit source]

Acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars, quarterback Steve Beuerlein did not throw a single pass, instead rushing three times for a net loss of ten yards; Kerry Collins handled the quarterbacking duties, throwing for 171 yards and one pick while Jim Everett threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns. This game, though, was a battle of field goals; following an 84-yard Winslow Oliver punt return touchdown John Kasay provided the rest of Carolina's offense with five field goals, two of them 51-yarders, for a 22-20 Panthers win.

Week 4: vs. San Francisco 49ers[edit | edit source]

The first sign that perennial NFC West champion San Francisco was in for a serious season-long fight with Carolina came as both 2-0 teams clashed at Ericsson Stadium]. Steve Beuerlein started and threw for 290 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick; a second pick was called back on a Niners holding call. The Panthers controlled the game from the opening kick as Steve Young was sacked four times and picked off in the fourth quarter by Brett Maxie; Willie Green and Merton Hanks also spent the day jawing at each other following Green catches, ultimately finishing up in a 23-7 Carolina win.

Week 5: at Jacksonville Jaguars[edit | edit source]

Former Jaguars quarterback Steve Beuerlein was knocked out of the game after being sacked five times. Kerry Collins managed a touchdown throw but the Jaguars sealed the 24-14 win by recovering a late onside kick.

Week 6: at Minnesota Vikings[edit | edit source]

Week 7: vs. St. Louis Rams[edit | edit source]

The Panthers erupted to over 30 points for the first time in their short history as they hammered the 1-4 Rams. Anthony Johnson rushed for 126 yards and Kerry Collins threw for 196 yards and three touchdowns, while Michael Bates added a 93-yard kickoff-return score. Tony Banks was pounded all day, fumbling to Kevin Greene for a 66-yard touchdown and then getting crushed by Panthers defenders as he unloaded a pass picked off by Chad Cota. The Panthers rocked to a 45-17 win.

Week 8: vs. New Orleans Saints[edit | edit source]

The Panthers rolled to a 19-7 win, but the story of the game turned out to be a postgame interview with Saints coach Jim Mora, who ripped the team by saying, "We couldn't do diddley poo offensively" in a tirade that became one of the most famous soundbites in sports history.

Week 9: at Philadelphia Eagles[edit | edit source]

Week 10: at Atlanta Falcons[edit | edit source]

Week 11: vs. New York Giants[edit | edit source]

Week 12: at St. Louis Rams[edit | edit source]

Week 13: at Houston Oilers[edit | edit source]

Week 14: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers[edit | edit source]

Week 15: at San Francisco 49ers[edit | edit source]

The Panthers effectively ended San Francisco's hopes of another division title in a matchup of two of the league's best defenses. The two defenses, however, got crushed by offense. The Panthers raced to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter but Steve Young found Brent Jones for a 10-7 score; the second quarter was a points explosion as Kerry Collins connected with Willie Green and ex-Niner Wesley Walls while Young found rookie Terrell Owens from 46 yards out; at the half the Panthers led 27-17. Jerry Rice's five-yard touchdown catch in the fourth was the closest the Niners came to the Panthers as Young was picked off twice and the Niners fumbled two more times; they also were hit with 14 penalties and 121 yards. Carolina thus finished a season sweep 30-24; Collins and Young combined for 620 passing yards.

Week 16: vs. Baltimore Ravens[edit | edit source]

Week 17: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers[edit | edit source]

Former Steelers coach Dom Capers and former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene greeted Bill Cowher and his AFC Central champions for the regular-season finale. After a Wesley Walls touchdown catch Mike Tomczak was hit in the endzone; he threw the ball before going down but it was ruled intentional grounding, for a Panthers safety. Kordell Stewart ran in an 80-yard touchdown, but in the fourth down 18-14 the Steelers choked on a procedure penalty and then a Chad Cota interception in the endzone. The moment of the year, though, came in the second quarter on a Panthers punt; the ball fell into the endzone and the mascot Sir Purr jumped on the ball even though it was still live; Cowher was laughing hard at the miscue and Sir Purr was listed as having one punt return for zero yards.

Postseason results[edit | edit source]

NFC Divisional playoff[edit | edit source]

Carolina Panthers 26, Dallas Cowboys 17
1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 3 8 3 3 17
Panthers 7 10 3 6 26

at Ericsson Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

The second-year Panthers held Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman to 165 passing yards and forced three interceptions en route to their first playoff win in team history. On offense, running back Anthony Johnson was their top performer with 104 rushing yards and a 9-yard reception. Dallas scored first on kicker Chris Boniol's 22-yard field goal, but wide receiver Michael Irvin was knocked out of the game with a separated shoulder. Carolina quarterback Kerry Collins then threw two touchdown passes, a 1-yarder to tight end Wesley Walls and a 10-yarder to wide receiver Willie Green. The Cowboys countered with a 73-yard drive to score on Aikman's 2-yard touchdown pass to running back Daryl Johnston, but they failed on the extra point attempt and the Panthers lead was only cut to 14-9. A bad snap on a Carolina punt attempt went out of the end zone to give the Cowboys a safety. But Panthers safety Chad Cota intercepted a pass and returned it 49 yards to set up kicker John Kasay's 24-yard field goal with three seconds in the half, giving Carolina a 17-11 halftime lead. The second half was a battle of field goals with Kasey kicking 3 over Boniol's 2.

NFC Championship[edit | edit source]

Green Bay Packers 30, Carolina Panthers 13
1 2 3 4 Total
Panthers 7 3 3 0 13
Packers 0 17 10 3 30

at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

The Packers recorded 201 rushing yards and 476 total yards of offense. Green Bay running back Dorsey Levens recorded 117 yards receiving and 88 yards rushing, including a 29-yard touchdown catch. Quarterback Brett Favre managed to overcome two early turnovers that set up 10 Carolina points, completing 19 out of 29 passes for 292 yards and 2 touchdowns. Packers running back Edgar Bennett, who recorded 99 rushing yards, scored a touchdown from 4 yards out, and kicker Chris Jacke added 3 field goals.

Early in the first quarter, Panthers linebacker Sam Mills intercepted a pass from Favre and returned it to the Packers 3-yard line, setting up Kerry Collins' 3-yard touchdown pass to fullback Howard Griffith. Green Bay struck back with Favre's 29-yard touchdown pass to Levens, but after forcing a punt, Carolina lineman Lamar Lathon recovered a fumble from Favre on the Packers 45-yard line. A few plays later, John Kasay's 22-yard field goal put the Panthers back in the lead, 10-7.

But after that, the Packers dominated the rest of the game. Favre responded by leading Green Bay 71 yards in 15 plays and scoring with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman. Then on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, safety Tyrone Williams intercepted a pass from Collins on the Packers 38-yard line. Favre's completions to Andre Rison and Freeman for gains of 23 and 25 yards moved the ball into field goal range, and Jacke's 31-yard field goal finished the drive, giving Green Bay a 17-10 halftime lead.

On the first drive of the second half, Green Bay moved the ball 73 yards in 11 plays and scored with another Jacke field goal. The Panthers managed to respond with an 11-play, 73-yard drive of their own and score with Kasay's second field goal, which cut their deficit to 7 points. But Green Bay stormed right back with a 74-yard touchdown drive, featuring a 66-yard reception by Levens. On the next play, Bennett's 4-yard touchdown run gave the Packers a 27-13 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Jacke's third field goal put the game out of reach.

Awards and records[edit | edit source]

  • Dom Capers, NFC Coach of the Year
  • Dom Capers, Associated Press, NFL Coach of the Year[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p.92
  2. Assistant Coaches. Panthers.com. Retrieved on February 11, 2010.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.