Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith suffers left knee; MRI scheduled for Monday

The Carolina Panthers will find out Monday if they avoided disaster with Steve Smith's left knee injury that he suffered in Sunday's huge win on a non-contact play.

Smith fell to the turf in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints after grabbing his left knee. He returned for one play after taking an initial MRI at the stadium but came out limping and remained out for the rest of the dramatic 17-13 Panthers victory that clinched a playoff spot.

A source close to Smith told the Shutdown Corner that the team is holding its breath, perhaps thinking he might have avoided a serious injury such as a torn ACL. He will be given another MRI on Monday.

The Panthers could clinch the NFC South title and perhaps the No. 2 seed in the postseason next week in Atlanta against the Falcons. Smith's availability is unknown.

Smith came into this game with a finger injury but caught a 42-yard pass over his shoulder in the first quarter. Smith's replacement, Dominik Hixon, caught the game-winning score in the final minute of the biggest game in franchise history in several years. The Panthers have not been to the playoffs since the 2008 season.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!