All Monday afternoon, fans had been walking to Bank of America Stadium, taking pictures, hanging out, hoping that when night came they would see something great.
The Carolina Panthers did their best clutch work of the season to beat New England, 24-20, in a game thrilling and dramatic.
If the Panthers had been a secret, quietly beating bottom-feeders before upsetting the 49ers in San Francisco, the Patriots were their coming-out party.
One NFL game was played Monday and the Panthers played it and they played it beautifully. The crowd was a 747 taking off from Charlotte Douglas International loud. Fans in Detroit and Denver, in New Orleans and New York, saw the Panthers win their sixth straight. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Tom Sorensen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.