Panthers most memorable '13 plays: No. 7
July, 3, 2014
By David Newton | ESPN.com
Continuing my look at the most memorable plays during the Carolina Panthers 2013 season is one -- actually two -- that cemented a nickname for head coach Ron Rivera.
- The play: (Oct. 13) This is a package deal, two fourth-and-1 plays on the same drive in the first quarter of a scoreless game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. On the first, Mike Tolbert rushes for 2 yards to keep the drive alive. On the second, Cam Newton completes a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Steve Smith.
- The final score: Panthers 35, Vikings 10
- Why it made the list: Because this is when Rivera was dubbed "Riverboat Ron," a nickname that became so popular that Rivera and his wife filed to trademark it to help raise money for charity. Because the two plays led to a rout that began an eight-game winning streak that turned the season around. After not gambling on fourth-and-1 and losing to Buffalo 24-23 in Week 2, Rivera successfully went for it nine out of 10 times during October and November. The Panthers were successful on all eight tries during their winning streak. The nickname became so popular that a fan that happened to be a graphic designer posted a picture of Rivera wearing a riverboat gambler outfit, smoking a cigar and holding poker cards in his left hand. The two gambles against Minnesota let quarterback Cam Newton and the rest of the offense know for sure that their coach believed in the unit's ability to get the job done. "It means a lot," Newton said at the time. "Being in a hostile environment and knowing that we need an edge in this game, we went for it. For him to trust us means a lot and it speaks volumes. I think that he is kind of breaking his mold to a degree, and giving the whole team confidence with him." The plays weren't amazing like Newton's Houdini act that ranked No. 9, but the impact was.