Win or lose, why Panthers' fans will celebrate tonight

Win or lose, why Panthers' fans will celebrate tonight

Win or lose, why Panthers' fans will celebrate tonight


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 18 at 8:12 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Excitement is building by the minute for Panthers fans, who say the Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots is the biggest game the team has played in years.

Photos: Tailgating before the Panthers take on the Patriots!

The Panthers (6-3) are on a five game winning streak and face the 7-2 Patriots. It's the first home Monday Night Football game in five years.

"Go Panthers!" Brent Johnson shouted from his tailgating camp near the stadium.

Fans are on the equivalent of a caffeine buzz waiting for the game to start at 8:40 p.m.

That's about the time Panthers fan Dennis Pless is yawning on his couch.

"Eating a bowl of ice cream, getting ready to go to bed," he said.

Monday night he is wired with excitement.

His day started at 7:30 this morning. Pless then met a few buddies and came to Bank of America stadium for tailgating while his friends called out sick from work.

Their plan is to tailgate win or lose until Tuesday morning.

"It's a really big deal," Pless said.

So big, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams tweeted a picture of himself of a normal Monday night in pajamas compared to bursting onto the field.

"This is the most excited I’ve been in a while," said fan Brent Johnson. 

He figures he hasn't been this pumped up for a Panthers game since the 2003 Super Bowl versus New England.

"We're on espresso…and Bud Light," Johnson said.

Robert Paro flew from New York to Charlotte to see this game. He hopes it shuts up years of teasing from his hometown buddies about his love of the Panthers.

"That we're the real deal, that we believe in ourselves," Paro said.

"I think you are going to hear a lot of noise and the Panthers are going to kick some butt," said Pless.

Fans say the Panthers defense is tough enough to put the Patriots vaunted offense to sleep.

If that happens, we're looking at a buzz that won't go away anytime soon.

Even Patriots fans are taking notice.

"If they are able to win the game tonight against a franchise like the Patriots, they can probably win every game the rest of the year. It's that type of game," said Patriots fan James Fletcher.