Panthers WR/PR Ted Ginn Jr. comes up big vs. former team
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Ted Ginn Jr. made the Arizona Cardinals pay for cutting him this past offseason.
Discarded just one year into a three-year contract, Ginn beat his former team in almost every way imaginable - catching passes, running reverses, returning punts and even chasing down Patrick Peterson after an interception - helping the Carolina Panthers to a 49-15 win in the NFC championship on Sunday.
''I felt like deep down inside they felt like I couldn't do it,'' Ginn said. ''They sent me back out to the wolves.''
Ginn caught two passes for 52 yards and set up his own electrifying 22-yard touchdown run with a nifty 32-yard punt return. But maybe his biggest play was chasing down Peterson after an interception in the final minute of the first half.
Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Ginn didn't talk much about retribution during the week, but he could tell his buddy was ready to play.
''You could see that each and every day he had something there,'' Cotchery said. ''At this point in time in your career when somebody says they don't want you, but you know you can still play, you want to go out and show it. He did that tonight.''
Ginn said he left Carolina after the 2013 season to ''chase a check,'' but was seldom used in Arizona last season.
He caught just 14 passes for 190 yards and no touchdowns. He was replaced by John Brown as the team's third receiver and his playing time dwindled.
After Arizona lost to Carolina in the playoffs last season, several of his former Panthers teammates said he needed to come back home.
When Ginn was released, the Panthers welcomed the speedster back with a two-year contract - and the move paid off. Ginn caught 44 passes for 739 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns in the regular season.
But he may have saved his best game for Sunday.
With Carolina leading 3-0, Ginn fielded a punt and weaved through traffic for a 32-yard return to set the Panthers up in Arizona territory. Five plays later he took a pitch from Cam Newton, raced around left end on a reverse, changed fields and scored.
''I did what I always do,'' Ginn said. ''Pops always told me to use my shoes, so I used my shoes.''
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, a big fan of Ginn's college team of Ohio State, tweeted after the play ''Do work (at)TedGinnJr-19!! I see you out there.''
Ginn later caught a 39-yard pass over Peterson.
And when it looked as if the Cardinals might have a chance of making a comeback, Ginn chased down Peterson after an interception, saving a touchdown. On the next play, Panthers safety Kurt Coleman intercepted Carson Palmer in the end zone and the Cardinals never threatened again.
''Speed kills - and that is what he did today,'' running back Jonathan Stewart said.
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