Panthers receiver DJ Moore sat by himself on the bench for a long time after Sunday’s game ended. He was one of two principal players for the Panthers in a loss that should have been an improbable win that became an improbable loss.
Moore said he was thinking about what might have been.
“What would have happened if I didn’t take my helmet off, going back to what happened. That was about it,” Moore said, via video from Sheena Quick of 1340 AM Fox Sports.
Moore went from hero to goat after catching a 62-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left to tie the game at 34-34. But he celebrated by removing his helmet, costing his team an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The 15-yard penalty made the PAT a 48-yard try, and Eddy Pineiro missed, sending the game to overtime. Pineiro then missed a 32-yarder in overtime, and the Falcons eventually won 37-34.
“It was a natural reaction, but you still have to know you can’t do that,” Moore said, via DaShawn Brown of WSOC-TV.
Moore now forever will be linked with Dwayne Rudd for one of the most infamous blunders in NFL history, negating his great play.
In 2002, the then-Browns linebacker did something similar on what he thought was the final play of the game. His helmet toss celebration cost the Browns 15 yards and gave the Chiefs an untimed down, which they used for a game-winning field goal.
“We’ve got to do better as a team,” Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks said. “DJ is smart enough to understand that that’s something to learn from. Very talented player. Glad he’s on our team. But moving forward, that’s something we’ll learn from and won’t make that same mistake.”