Panthers' top plays: Smith's 69-yard TD

  Albert Dickson/Sporting News/Icon SMI

This is the third of three plays nominated as the most memorable in Carolina Panthers' history. Also featured are DeShaun Foster's amazing 1-yard touchdown run in the NFC Championship Game that sent the Panthers to the Super Bowl during the 2003 season and John Kasay's out-of-bounds kickoff that set up New England's game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl that season. Please vote for your choice as the Panthers' most memorable play.

Score: Panthers 29, Rams 23, 2 OT

Date: Jan. 10, 2004 Site: Edward Jones Dome

On the first play of double overtime, quarterback Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith over the middle for a 69-yard touchdown pass that ended this thriller and sent the Panthers to the NFC Championship Game. "I braced myself for the big hit, but it never came," Smith said. "And when I took off, I knew I was gone." This play is on the list not only because of the dramatic fashion in which it ended the game, but because of the emotional roller-coaster fans were on leading to it. Carolina led 23-12 with three minutes remaining in regulation. Had the late Don Meredith been alive, he would have begun singing, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."

But the party was just beginning. The Rams, thanks to a porous defense and onsides kick, tied the game with four seconds left on a field goal by Jeff Wilkins. It remained tied during the first overtime even though both teams had chances to win. The Panthers had a delay of game penalty that negated a game-winning kick by John Kasay, and two plays later Kasay missed from 45 yards. Wilkins, who made five field goals during regulation, had a 53-yarder barely fall short on the Rams' first possession of overtime. St. Louis looked poised to get in position for another game-winning kick late in the first overtime with first-and-10 at the Carolina 38. But cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. ripped the ball out of Tory Holt's hands on an apparent catch for arguably the biggest interception in franchise history. After two plays for minus-4 yards, on third-and-14 from his own 31, Delhomme unleashed the pass to Smith that sent Carolina fans that made the trip into a frenzy and silenced the home crowd that had seen its team win 14 straight games in the dome. "I've never seen a game quite like that," then-Carolina coach John Fox said. That's because there haven't been many like it.