CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Panthers marched into New Orleans and clinched a South Division title... before kickoff. Then they buoyed their unbeaten season in comeback fashion winning 41-38 improving to 12-0!
Call it lucky week 13. Atlanta took any "playoff-clinching" drama out of the contest in the Superdome by folding, yet again. This time to the Buccaneers. The Panthers are the first team to clinch a playoff spot and are guaranteed at least one postseason game in Charlotte. That's three straight South titles for Carolina.
12-0 proved to be harder to come by. After marvelous starts each of the last few weeks, the Panthers found themselves trailing the Saints early. Drew Brees put New Orleans into the end zone after going oh-fer their previous 19 drives. Then, after dodging a Cam Newton interception, Jonathan Stewart fumbled and suddenly it was 14-0. Adversity in a big way. Did Carolina mentally checkout after clinching the division pre-game? Maybe for a second. The second half was vintage Newton in 2015. Five TD tosses helped including the game winner with seconds left.
The '72 Dolphins remain keeper of the last undefeated season. However Panthers team records continue to fall. Greg Olsen now has more catches than any TE in team history. Newton is the first QB to rush for over 3,000 yards in his first five seasons. Of course the team record they wan't most remains two months away. Today Carolina got a step closer to Super Bowl 50.