Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 12/11/12
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The 2009 football season might as well be an eternity ago for Thomas Davis. It was the first of many frustrating years for Davis, beginning a trend that many around the Carolina Panthers organization didnt think would end positively for the well-liked and respected linebacker out of Georgia But when Matt Ryans pass that was intended for wide receiver Roddy White fell into Davis hands with 6:19 remaining Sunday and the Panthers owning a 10-point lead, suddenly all Davis had been through was magnified. Here were the Panthers in the midst of one of the franchises most frustrating seasons, perhaps in the process of blowing a 23-0 lead to an Atlanta Falcons team they admittedly despise, and seemingly nothing in Ryans way to prevent the ultimate disaster for the home team. But Davis made a play. He made the kind of play that once marked him as one of the better linebackers in the NFL. And it was a play that may have saved the game for the Panthers in their 30-20 victory. It was definitely good to go out there and make a play that helps the team out a lot, said Davis, who also gave credit to the defensive lines pass rush that forced Ryan to throw a bad ball and I was able to come away with the interception. Davis play didnt go unrecognized by the Panthers. On an afternoon when quarterback Cam Newton put forth one of the best and most professional efforts of his career, coach Ron Rivera gave the game ball to Davis. Really, it was a no-brainer. After playing in just nine games since his 2009 campaign was cut short with a torn ACL in his right knee, the organization had to make a decision on Davis. So Rivera and owner Jerry Richardson sat down with him last spring to discuss their situations and Davis, 29, gave them his word hed be back and would remain healthy. Rivera and Richardson gave him that opportunity. I knew he really wanted to make it through both Atlanta games, Rivera said following Sundays game about Davis. As a head coach, when you have a guy look you in the eye, coming off three knee surgeries and he makes you believe in him, thats what its all about. It really is. Rivera couldnt go on any longer. Overcome with emotion, he simply walked away from the podium and the press conference was over. If theres a defining moment of this season Carolina fans can take away with pride, then that was it. Not the interception that likely preserved a win that wont really affect this teams final standing, but the human side of what Davis achieved. The Panthers had played 54 games since Davis last interception, which came in the sixth contest of the 2009 campaign. One game later, he was done for the season with an ACL tear, setting off the frustrating journey. Davis didnt play a snap in 2010, and last season re-injured the right knee in the second game and was lost again for the campaign. He thought he had just tweaked it at first, but an MRI later revealed the damage and he was lost for the season by its second game. Not surprisingly, Davis had been given more than his share of advice to walk away from the game while he could. But he just couldnt. Even in the first week or so of camp in July it appeared when Rivera spoke about Davis and his performance it was almost as a courtesy. Understandably, Davis situation was a seeing-is-believing deal. Thats why the game ball Sunday meant so much. It was a special moment, Davis said. After everything Ive gone through over the last two-and-a-half years, being able to come back here and compete, and just being able to make a play that I feel like had an impact on the game. It feels great. You know, it feels great. Its been a long time. Davis has played in all 12 games this season, becoming the first NFL player to successfully come back from three ACL surgeries. Davis has been in on 81 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles while scooping up another. And then theres his only interception since two months before the iPad was introduced to the world. Five snaps later, DeAngelo Williams took a short pass from Newton and dashed into the end zone for a 53-yard score to essentially seal the deal. It was just the Panthers fourth victory in 13 tries this season, but no win could match this one in satisfaction and emotion. Thats how much Davis means to his teammates and the organization.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Cubs trade for Chapman a risk, but potential payoff too hard to ignore

White Sox fan wears a fantastic taped-up Chris Sale jersey

Wisconsin kicker will wear 27 to honor Nebraska's Sam Foltz

Dennis Schroder wears disguise to play in German streetball tournament

Browns indicate they will give Josh Gordon another chance


Prince Fielder to undergo season-ending neck surgery

Eagles want Carson Wentz to be 'starter ready' Week 1

Report: 49ers concerned Anthony Davis will quit again

Did Manning hurt NFLPA's case in HGH investigations?

Report: Steinbrenner won't allow fire sale, wants to make playoffs

Report: Dion Waiters agrees to one-year deal with Heat

Dion Waiters' deal signals the end of the 2016 money grab

Tom Jackson could leave ESPN after almost three decades

Cavs sign coach Tyronn Lue to a five-year extension

More than 10,000 people registered for Jaguars Pokemon Go night

NFL issues new concussion protocol

Angels listening to offers on Hector Santiago

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

Kevin Durant’s OKC restaurant will be closed, rebranded

Lamar Odom said to be held back by one 'toxic friend'

Mario Balotelli crashes Liverpool fans' wedding

Michael Vick: I used to feel I was 'dominating too much'

WATCH: Astros, Rangers minor leaguers get into brawl

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker