History shows Panthers' post-Super Bowl struggles come as no surprise

We probably shouldn't be surprised that the Carolina Panthers are spiraling the season after they lost the Super Bowl.

In its 50-year history, only two teams have won the Super Bowl — the 1971 Dallas Cowboys and 1972 Miami Dolphins — the year after losing it. The Panthers (1-4) now seem like an extremely long shot to break this four-decade curse given no team has reached Super Sunday following a 1-4 start.

Here's how Carolina's 10 most recent predecessors fared:

2015 Seattle Seahawks (10-6): The year after Russell Wilson's goal-line INT in Super Bowl XLIX ruined Seattle's repeat bid, this wild-card team went 1-1 in postseason — falling to the Panthers in the divisional round — after enduring key injuries (Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham), a holdout by Kam Chancellor and a 4-5 start.

2014 Denver Broncos (12-4): They won a fourth consecutive AFC West crown, but Peyton Manning wasn't the same after suffering a December thigh injury and played abysmally as the Broncos were upset by his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, in their playoff opener.

2013 San Francisco 49ers (12-4): They reached the NFC title game for the third consecutive year but fell 23-17 to the archrival Seahawks — forever earning the scorn of Seattle’s Richard Sherman — when Colin Kaepernick was intercepted in the end zone to seal the outcome.

2012 New England Patriots (12-4): The perennial AFC East champs lost a rare playoff game at home when the Baltimore Ravens won an AFC Championship Game rematch at Gillette Stadium 28-13 a year after a narrow loss. It would be Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez's final NFL appearance.

2011 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): They featured the league's stingiest defense, but a tiebreaker cost them the AFC North crown and forced them onto the road for a playoff opener at Denver ... where the Steelers were infamously beaten by Tim Tebow's 80-yard TD pass to Demaryius Thomas in OT.

2010 Colts (10-6): Manning passed a woefully unbalanced squad atop the AFC South one final time, but he lost what turned out to be his last game in a Colts uniform when Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets left Lucas Oil Stadium with a 17-16 wild-card upset.

2009 Arizona Cardinals (10-6): Statistically, they were largely superior to the previous year's surprise NFC champs. Kurt Warner produced an epic performance (5 TDs vs. 4 incompletions) in a 51-45 wild-card defeat of the Green Bay Packers, but a brutal hit knocked him out of the next game in New Orleans and ultimately sent him into retirement.

2008 Patriots (11-5): After falling one win shy of the first-ever 19-0 season in 2007, they lost Tom Brady in Week 1 to a torn knee ligament. Understudy Matt Cassel gamely led the Pats to 11 wins, but a tiebreaker kept them out of postseason — the only time they've missed it since 2003.

2007 Chicago Bears (7-9): A nightmare Super Bowl hangover. LB Lance Briggs railed against his franchise tag in the offseason. Turnover-prone QB Rex Grossman was benched, then injured. The trade of tone-setting RB Thomas Jones proved detrimental. Pro Bowl S Mike Brown didn’t survive a Week 1 injury. And DT Tank Johnson's legal issues cost him his job.

2006 Seahawks (9-7): The loss of all-pro G Steve Hutchinson to a "poison pill" free agent offer set an ominous tone. Reigning MVP Shaun Alexander, who scored a single-season record 28 TDs in 2005, broke his foot in Week 3 and was never the same player (partially due to Hutchinson's departure). Seattle limped to the top of a weak NFC West and won its playoff opener — courtesy of Cowboys QB Tony Romo's botched field-goal hold — before losing in OT at Chicago the next week.


Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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