I went to last night's New York Giants versus Carolina Panthers game and stayed until the end.
Until the bitter, bitter, bitter end.
As a Carolina Panthers fan I go out of my way to attend non-Sunday home games with my 11-year-old son. In our family we set aside Sunday as a day of worship, family time, and giving service, so attending Sunday football games is not an option for me.
When I saw the Panthers would be hosting the Giants on a Thursday night I snagged two tickets to be able to have some bonding time with my son.
We watched as the Panthers got destroyed 36-7.
The feeling of having some father-son bonding time was great.
But the overall feeling in Bank of America Stadium was just...weird.
I've got to give it to Giants fans - you travel well.
There were a lot of people at last night's game wearing Giants jerseys. On the game's first play from scrimmage Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for a 12-yard gain. The chorus of "Cruuuuzzzz!" that erupted from Giants fans was surprisingly loud.
When the Giants scored their first touchdown the cheer from Giants fans dwarfed the groans from Panthers fans.
Random chants of "Let's go Giants!" (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) emerged from the cheap seats.
I've never seen such a strong contingent of visiting fans. Three minutes into the game and the Giants led 7-0 and their fans were rocking.
It was a weird feeling as a Panthers fan.
Game Over - In the Second Quarter
The Panthers punted on their first possession. The Giants then kicked a field goal to go up 10-0.
The Panthers punted on their second possession. The Giants shredded the Panthers' for another touchdown on their next drive.
The Giants now led 17-0 with 12:08 left in the second quarter. It was disheartening watching Andre Brown running through huge holes and Giants wide receivers running uncovered over the middle of the field.
Game over, and there were still nearly three full quarters left to play.
The crowd knew it.
We felt it.
The Knife-to-the-Stomach Kickoff Return Fumble
The Panthers trailed 20-0 at the half and received the kickoff to start the third quarter.
Carolina's rookie return man Joe Adams fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Giants on the Carolina 19 yard line. The Giants were now guaranteed at least a field goal.
Panthers fans exchanged incredulous, are-you-kidding-me glances.
Giants fans erupted in a gloating chorus of cheers and taunts.
The Jumbotron played the Under Armour commercial exclaiming "We must protect this house!"
The Panthers were not protecting this house. We knew it. The Giants fans knew it.
Home games are not supposed to feel like this.
Pointing to the Exits
The Giants converted the fumbled kickoff into a field goal and a 23-0 lead.
Cam Newton scored on a diving touchdown on the Panthers next drive to cut the lead to 23-7. The Giants responded with another field goal.
With :53 seconds left in the third quarter and facing a 26-7 deficit Panthers fans started leaving the stadium. Giants fans mockingly and happily pointed toward the exits. And why not? The Giants were owning the Panthers on the field.
Giants fans owned the Panthers fans in the stands.
Since attending Panthers game with my son is a rare treat, we stayed until the end.
We stayed for the fourth quarter to personally witness two Cam Newton interceptions, a Joe Adams muffed punt return, and two more Giants touchdowns.
The Panthers sucked. The Giants fans at Bank of America Stadium turned the place into their own personal party zone.
But I didn't let it bother me too much. .
Some things are more important than football.
The enjoyment I got out of spending a memorable afternoon and evening with my 11-year-old son made the Panthers' bad loss totally worth it.
Making a lasting memory with my son?
Now that feels great.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Carolina Panthers
- New York Giants