Not much went wrong for the Carolina Panthers during their 49-15 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday’s NFC Championship, but when something did, an all-out hustle effort from Ted Ginn, Jr. minimized the damage.
Leading 24-7 and marching down the field for another score just before halftime, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton overthrew tight end Ed Dixon at the Cardinals 10-yard line, and the ball floated right into the arms of a waiting Patrick Peterson at the 5. Peterson went streaking down the sideline, his mind on nothing but the end zone and getting the Cardinals back into a game that was quickly slipping away.
Ginn had finished running his route in the right corner of the end zone when Peterson made the interception, and he immediately started running down the field to catch him. By the time he shifted directions to chase Peterson, the Cardinals cornerback already had 10 yards on him, as seen in the photo above. Peterson runs unimpeded for 60 yards, all the way to the Panthers’ 25-yard line before Ginn reappears out of nowhere to bring him down.
This was impressive for a couple of reasons. Peterson is speedy. At the 2011 NFL Combine, he ran a 4.34 40-Yard Dash. Also, Ginn doesn’t even hit full stride until he’s run 10 yards in pursuit. None of that mattered, though. Ginn ran a 4.28-second 40-Yard Dash at his Pro Day, and he is widely regarded as one of the fastest players in football. He chases down and tackles Peterson at the 20-yard line, saving a touchdown that would have put the Cardinals within 10 points and given them momentum going into the half. Instead, Carson Palmer threw an interception, and the Cards entered halftime down 17 points. They never recovered.