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.

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

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.


Unrestricted Free Agents Signed:

Unrestricted Free Agents Lost:

NFL DraftEdit

Round Pick Name Position College
1 8Tim BiakabutukaRunning BackMichigan
2 43 Muhsin MuhammadWide ReceiverMichigan State
3 73 Winslow OliverRunning BackNew Mexico
3 88 J. C. Price Defensive Tackle Virginia Tech
4 104 Norberto GarridoGuardUSC
4 111 Emmanuel McDanielDefensive backEast Carolina
5 142 Marquette SmithRunning backCentral Florida
6 193 Scott GreeneRunning backMichigan State
7 217 Donnell BakerWide receiverSouthern
7 234 Kerry HicksDefensive tackleColorado



1996 Carolina Panthers 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



Regular seasonEdit

Week Date Opponent Results Game Site
Final score Team record
1 September 1, 1996 Atlanta Falcons W 29–6 1–0 Ericsson Stadium
2 September 8, 1996 New Orleans Saints W 22–20 2–0 Louisiana Superdome
3 Bye Week
4 September 22, 1996 San Francisco 49ers W 23–7 3–0 Ericsson Stadium
5 September 29, 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars L 24–14 3–1 Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
6 October 6, 1996 Minnesota Vikings L 14–12 3–2 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
7 October 13, 1996 St. Louis Rams W 45–13 4–2 Ericsson Stadium
8 October 20, 1996 New Orleans Saints W 19–7 5–2 Ericsson Stadium
9 October 27, 1996 Philadelphia Eagles L 20–9 5–3 Veterans Stadium
10 November 3, 1996 Atlanta Falcons L 20–17 5–4 Georgia Dome
11 November 10, 1996 New York Giants W 27–17 6–4 Ericsson Stadium
12 November 17, 1996 St. Louis Rams W 20–10 7–4 Trans World Dome
13 November 24, 1996 Houston Oilers W 31–6 8–4 The Astrodome
14 December 1, 1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 24–0 9–4 Ericsson Stadium
15 December 8, 1996 San Francisco 49ers W 30–24 10–4 3Com Park
16 December 15, 1996 Baltimore Ravens W 27–16 11–4 Ericsson Stadium
17 December 22, 1996 Pittsburgh Steelers W 18–14 12–4 Ericsson Stadium
NOTE: Division games are in bold text.


Week Date Opponent Results Game Site
Final score Team record
Wild Card Bye Week
Divisional January 5, 1997 Dallas Cowboys W 26–17 13–4 Ericsson Stadium
Conference January 12, 1997 Green Bay Packers L 30–13 13–5 Lambeau Field


NFC West
view · talk · edit W L T PCT PF PA
Carolina Panthers 12 4 0 .750 367 218
San Francisco 49ers 12 4 0 .750 398 257
St. Louis Rams 6 10 0 .375 303 409
Atlanta Falcons 3 13 0 .188 309 461
New Orleans Saints 3 13 0 .188 229 339

Notable GamesEdit

September 8 @ New Orleans SaintsEdit

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.

September 22 vs. San Francisco 49ersEdit

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 Ericcson 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.

October 13 vs. St. Louis RamsEdit

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.

December 8 @ San Francisco 49ersEdit

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.

December 22 vs. Pittsburgh SteelersEdit

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.

Regular season resultsEdit


1996 Carolina Panthers 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


NFC Divisional PlayoffEdit

January 5, 1997Edit

Carolina Panthers 26, Dallas Cowboys 17Edit

1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 3 8 3 3


Panthers 7 10 3 6


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.

  • Scoring
    • DAL - field goal Boniol 22 DAL 3-0
    • CAR - Walls 1 pass from Collins (Kasay kick) CAR 7-3
    • CAR - Green 10 pass from Collins (Kasay kick) CAR 14-3
    • DAL - Johnston 2 pass from Aikman (pass failed) CAR 14-9
    • DAL - Safety, Carolina bad snap went out of end zone CAR 14-11
    • CAR - field goal Kasay 24 CAR 17-11
    • DAL - field goal Boniol 21 CAR 17-14
    • CAR - field goal Kasay 40 CAR 20-14
    • CAR - field goal Kasay 40 CAR 23-14
    • DAL - field goal Boniol 21 CAR 23-17
    • CAR - field goal Kasay 32 CAR 26-17

NFC Championship GameEdit

January 12, 1997Edit

NFC: Green Bay Packers 30, Carolina Panthers 13Edit

1 2 3 4 Total
Panthers 7 3 3 0


Packers 0 17 10 3


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.

  • Scoring
    • CAR - Griffith 3 pass from Collins (Kasay kick) CAR 7-0
    • GB - Levens 29 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) Tie 7-7
    • CAR - field goal Kasay 22 CAR 10-7
    • GB - Freeman 6 pass from Favre (Jacke kick) GB 14-10
    • GB - field goal Jacke 31 GB 17-10
    • GB - field goal Jacke 32 GB 20-10
    • CAR - field goal Kasay 23 GB 20-13
    • GB - Bennett 4 run (Jacke kick) GB 27-13
    • GB - field goal Jacke 28 GB 30-13

Awards and recordsEdit

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



  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". Retrieved February 11, 2010.
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Indianapolis Cincinnati Kansas City Dallas Detroit Carolina
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NY Jets Pittsburgh Seattle Washington Tampa Bay San Francisco
1996 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XXXI

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