Five years ago today, the San Francisco 49ers traveled to face the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round of the 2014 NFL playoffs. The 49ers came to town after winning a close one in freezing cold Green Bay. The 49ers actually ended up a one-point road favorite, and after a tight second quarter, the 49ers walked away with the game in the second half.
There were plenty of highlights from the game, but one of my favorites was a miscue by the 49ers. The Panthers had a 3rd and goal with a little over five minutes to go. Ahmad Brooks had tackled Panthers quarterback Cam Newton the play before for no gain, getting credit for a sack. Brooks had a huge game that day, with 2.5 sacks and three quarterback hits, but the next play on that drive was not a highlight.
Brooks tried to time the Panthers snap count, and leap over to sack Newton or stop the running back in the backfield. Instead, this happened.
Perhaps you’d like to see it in slow motion as well.
I don’t know what’s funnier. Brooks flying through the air for the clear encroachment penalty, or Cam Newton flopping to the ground like he just got absolutely bulldozed in spite of the fact that Brooks flew over him and barely grazed him with his foot.
The Panthers ended up only getting three points out of the drive. It was goal to go, so the Panthers did not get a new set of downs. On the next play, Mike Tolbert was stopped for a one-yard loss and the Panthers settled for a field goal to take a 10-6 lead. The 49ers would score a touchdown on the next drive to close out the half and they would never relinquish the lead.
That Panthers game was kind of an odd one in the history of that period for the 49ers. The prior week had been a grudge match of sorts in Green Bay, and the following week was a brutal loss in Seattle. The 49ers looked good in that Panthers game, and yet it has been relatively overlooked in light of the surrounding games. But man, that might be one of my favorite random plays from the Jim Harbaugh era.