Panthers most memorable '13 plays: No. 8

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
8:00
AM ET
Continuing my look at the most memorable plays during the Carolina Panthers 2013 season is one that led to a nickname for head coach Ron Rivera.

No. 8

The play: (Sept. 22) Fullback Mike Tolbert scores a touchdown on fourth-and-1 from the New York Giants' 2-yard line.

The final score: Panthers 38, Giants 0

Why it made the list: OK, the nickname "Riverboat Ron" wasn't born for two more weeks. But this was the beginning of the gambling era for Ron Rivera, who was criticized a week earlier for his decision to kick a field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Buffalo 21 with 1:42 remaining and a three-point lead. He was criticized because, after kicking a field goal, Buffalo scored a touchdown to win 24-23. So with an 0-2 record and speculation that he wouldn't survive past the bye week if Carolina lost to the Giants, Rivera changed his stripes. One of the most conservative coaches in the league when it came to fourth-and-1, Rivera went for it in a scoreless game from the Giants' 2. Tolbert scored easily with a run to the right side. His touchdown dance also could have made the list, but that would be another category. The play is significant because it signaled a change in mentality for Rivera, one that wouldn't be realized fully until he did it twice in the fifth game against Minnesota. "That was huge. Very symbolic," left tackle Jordan Gross said of Tolbert's run. "That’s been criticized for seven days now. ... So on the sideline afterward I told [center Ryan] Kalil, 'Dude, that was awesome! We got that on fourth-and-1!': Said wide receiver Steve Smith, "We allowed Coach, as people say, to survive another week."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.