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News » Beuerlein's draw play silenced Lambeau Field

Beuerlein's draw play silenced Lambeau Field

Beuerlein's draw play silenced Lambeau Field
The laughter started during the timeout. Continued in the huddle. Escalated in the end zone and in the aftermath.

It's nine years later now, and people still chuckle when they think about Panthers quarterback Steve Beuerlein's game-winning draw play at Green Bay on Dec. 12, 1999. Whatever the Carolina Panthers do today at Lambeau Field in their 1 p.m. game against the Packers, they will be hard-pressed to create a happier, more everlasting memory than "The Draw."

"People still ask me about that play almost every single day," Beuerlein said this week when we talked.

It was Dec.12, 1999, and it was fourth-and-goal from the Green Bay 5. There were five seconds left. Carolina was behind 31-27. The Panthers had just called their final timeout.

Everyone knew the game would be won or lost on the next play. Beuerlein and the team's backup quarterbacks -- Jeff Lewis and Steve Bono -- formed a small circle around head coach George Seifert.

"I remember looking at George Seifert on the sideline," said Beuerlein, now a 43-year-old businessman who still lives in Charlotte with his wife and four children. "I couldn't tell if he was looking back at me -- you never knew because he always wore those sunglasses. And then, out of the blue, he said, 'What do you think about the quarterback draw?' And Steve Bono almost fell down laughing."

Beuerlein also thought Seifert was joking. He wasn't.

Seifert went 16-32 in three seasons for the Panthers before he got fired. He never got the team to the playoffs and once suffered through the embarrassment of a 1-15 season. But Seifert made two great decisions as a Panthers head coach.

Selecting Steve Smith in the third round of the 2001 draft was one.

This was the other.

"I'm serious," Beuerlein remembers Seifert saying. "I don't think they will expect it."

He couldn't have been more right about that. Beuerlein had only scored two rushing TDs in his NFL career, both from 1 yard out. This was mostly because the quarterback had the mobility and speed of a mastodon. As Panthers cornerback Eric Davis once noted, a number of third-graders could outrun Beuerlein.

Not only that, Beuerlein had already thrown for a team-record 373 yards in a fantastic game that had already had eight lead changes. He and Brett Favre (302 yards) had engaged in an entertaining shootout all afternoon.

By contrast, Carolina hadn't been able to run the ball at all (a theme throughout Seifert's tenure). The Panthers had a franchise-low 8 total rushing yards --yes, eight -- prior to Beuerlein's draw.

Seifert sent Beuerlein back onto the field with the call and a backup plan: If the Packers looked like they were going to blitz, he would instead throw to Wesley Walls. But if Green Bay lined up normally, he would run the draw.

First, though, the quarterback had to sell his teammates on the play. "There was a lot of tension in the huddle," Beuerlein said. "I gave them the play while the timeout was still going on, so they could get their minds right. I said, 'Well, you're not going to believe this, but we're running the quarterback draw.'

"They all busted out laughing," Beuerlein continued. "It was just like Bono. I said, 'Hey, guys, I'm serious.' And then there were a few choice words, criticizing the play call. I looked them in the eye and said, 'Hey, do your job.' "

Meanwhile, Walls kept trying to catch Beuerlein's eye. He was sure Beuerlein wouldn't actually go through with the draw. Having already caught six passes for 96 yards, the tight end was ready for the seventh.

"Wesley always thought he was open," Beuerlein said.

The Panthers lined up wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad and running back Anthony Johnson as receivers on the left side. Receiver Patrick Jeffers, who had already scored twice, lined up on the right side. Fullback William Floyd was alone in the backfield, but went in motion to the right before the play began, leaving an empty backfield.

The Packers countered with a three-man front rather than their usual four-man defensive line, spreading defensive backs all over the field to cover the pass. When Beuerlein saw that, he knew the draw was on.

Beuerlein took a three-step stop, trying to sell the pass, and then took off straight up the middle.

The call worked brilliantly. Only one Green Bay defender had any chance -- safety Rodney Artmore.

"He could have hit me in the chest, and I'd have never made it," Beuerlein said. "Instead, he dove at my legs, and he hit my left knee with his helmet. I was jumping -- soaring, I like to say -- into the end zone."

Beuerlein scored with a few inches to spare. Pain and pleasure flooded his body as the clock went to zero.

"When I realized I came down in the end zone, it was a combination of the most excruciating pain and incredible exhilaration," he said. "I really thought the guy had blown my knee out [he hadn't]. I also knew we had won. And then, of course, 15 guys jumped on top of me. All of them were laughing and yelling. But I really thought I was going to die."

The Panthers didn't even attempt an extra point. They won the game 33-31. Walls said after the game: "It was incredible when I looked back and saw Steve twinkle-toeing in the end zone."

I was there in Green Bay that day, and what I remember the most was how utterly silent Lambeau Field got immediately after Beuerlein's TD. Part of my column in the next day's Charlotte Observer read: "The Cheeseheads kept standing there, staring at the end zone. ... Lambeau froze. No tundra this time -- just frozen stares."

Beuerlein now broadcasts a dozen games a year -- a combination of college and pro games -- for CBS Sports. He also owns Beuerlein's Pro Fitness, which has five locations around Charlotte and specializes in selling high-end fitness equipment.

"I'm working harder now than I ever did," he said. "My golf game is non-existent."

Beuerlein would play for 17 years in the NFL -- and has paid the price medically for that longevity, having undergone 21 surgeries during and after his career.

The quarterback still considers that draw play his favorite moment, even superseding the Super Bowl ring he got in Dallas as a backup quarterback. Beuerlein set a bushel of team passing records and made the Pro Bowl during that 1999 Carolina season.

Seifert would unceremoniously -- and stupidly -- release Beuerlein prior to the 2001 season in order to promote Lewis to starting quarterback. That move helped lead to the 1-15 season that prompted Seifert's firing.

Beuerlein played three more years as a backup with the Denver Broncos , then signed a one-day contract with Carolina in the summer of 2004 so he could officially retire as a Panther.

"The draw play was the crown jewel of my career," Beuerlein said, laughing. "Just make sure you don't call it a quarterback sneak. That was no sneak from 1 yard away. That was a real draw play, and I took it to the house!"


On Dec. 12, 1999, the Carolina Panthers trailed Green Bay, 31-27, when they got the ball back at their own 37 with exactly four minutes to go at Lambeau Field. Here's how their drive unfolded:

1ST-AND-10 CAR 37 -- Steve Beuerlein pass to Muhsin Muhammad for 2 yards.

2ND-AND-8 CAR 39 -- Beuerlein pass to Fred Lane for 3.

3RD-AND-5 CAR 42 -- Beuerlein pass to Patrick Jeffers for 6.


1ST-AND-10 CAR 48 -- Beuerlein pass to Wesley Walls for 8.

2ND-AND-2 GB 44 -- Beuerlein pass to Muhammad for 4 (5-yard face-mask penalty on Green Bay added).

1ST-AND-10 GB 35 -- Beuerlein incomplete pass intended for Donald Hayes.

2ND-AND-10 GB 35 -- Beuerlein incomplete pass intended for Lane.

3RD-AND-10 GB 35 -- Beuerlein pass to Jeffers for 9.

Panthers TIMEOUT

4TH-AND-1 GB 26 -- Beuerlein pass to Walls for 18.

1ST-AND-GOAL GB 8 -- Beuerlein penalized for illegal forward pass (he threw an apparent TD pass to Walls but had passed the line of scrimmage).

2ND-AND-GOAL GB 13 -- Beuerlein incomplete pass intended for Walls.

3RD-AND-GOAL GB 13 -- Beuerlein pass to Walls for 8.

Panthers TIMEOUT (0:05 remaining).

4TH-AND-GOAL GB 5 -- Beuerlein runs quarterback draw up the middle for TOUCHDOWN.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008

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