The Carolina Panthers were able to hold off a furious comeback by the Seattle Seahawks to win 31-24 in yesterday’s NFC Divisional Round matchup. Carolina will face the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday for the George Halas Trophy in the NFC Championship Game. The winner — no matter who it is — will be playing for their second chance for a world title in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers’ and Cardinals’ sole Super Bowl appearances have been in Super Bowl XXXVIII (38) and Super Bowl XLIII (43) respectively.
Sunday’s game will be the Panthers fourth NFC Title Game appearance. In their second season as a franchise, the Panthers faced the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers in the 1997 NFC Championship, losing 30-13. To get to Super Bowl XXXVIII, the Panthers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 14-3 in the 2004 title game. They lost to the Seattle Seahawks 34-14 two years later for the chance to go to Super Bowl XL (40). For comparison, the Cardinals – the oldest franchise in the NFL – did not appear in their first Conference Championship Game until 2008 –38 years into their modern history.*
*The Cardinals began play in 1898 and won several NFL titles before the NFL-AFL merger led to the establishment of the NFC and AFC as separate conferences. The Panthers are one of four teams that were established during the modern/Super Bowl era.