Steve Smith’s departure from the Carolina Panthers has left the team without the most explosive player in the franchise’s history.
Coach Ron Rivera said Smith was cut in part because the wideout, “doesn’t have the top-end speed like he used to.” While the 2014 version of Steve Smith may have lost a step, Panthers fans still remember when he out-hustled and out-muscled opposing secondaries for game-breaking scores.
In honor of #89’s departure from Charlotte, here are Steve Smith’s five most dominant games with the Carolina Panthers.
#5 – Nov. 5, 2005 at Chicago Bears: 14 REC, 169 YDS, 0 TD
Smith entered the Week 11 game against the Bears as the NFL’s leading receiver with 937 yards. He certainly played like the league’s best receiver by posting a career-high 14 receptions and adding another 169 yards to his gaudy stats. But Smith couldn’t find the end zone against Chicago as Carolina fell 13-3 despite his monster numbers.
#4 – Oct. 30, 2005 vs. Minnesota Vikings: 11 REC, 201 YDS, 1 TD
The day started with Minnesota’s Fred Smoot trash talking Smith during pregame warm-ups. The day ended with a Carolina 38-13 blowout win and #89 recording what would become his only 200-plus yard regular season game. The lesson here is never trash talk Steve Smith. If you do, you’ll end up on a list like this.
#3 – Sept. 25, 2005 at Miami Dolphins: 11 REC, 170 YDS, 3 TD
Once again, Steve Smith provided nearly all of Carolina’s offense. Smith’s 11 receptions tied a franchise record (which he would break a few weeks later) and his three receiving touchdowns tied another club mark. But Smith was the only Panther to find the end zone as Carolina fell 27-24.
#2 – Dec. 8, 2002 vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 5 REC, 144 YDS, 1 TD, 3 Punt Returns, 153 YDS, 2 TD
Call this the redemption game. Coming off a suspension after beating up teammate Anthony Bright so badly he was hospitalized for two days, a contrite Steve Smith found the end zone three times, including twice on huge punt returns. In all, Smith accounted for nearly 300 total yards between his receptions and returns.
#1 – Jan. 15, 2006 at Chicago Bears: 12 REC, 218 YDS, 2 TD (Playoff Game)
In one of the biggest playoff games of his life, Steve Smith produced the most dominant game of his career. With a berth to the NFC Championship on the line, #89 torched the vaunted Chicago Bears defense for a career-high 218 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers rolled 29-21.